Mother says Cpl. Hazeltine has strong faith
Just days after being shot three times while directing traffic in Paradis, Cpl. Burt Hazeltine is now home.
Family, friends and fellow officers turned Hazeltine’s Des Allemands neighborhood into a full-fledged “Welcome Home” celebration as he returned to his family in a chauffeured SUV led by a motorcycle escort with 25 deputies.
Fire trucks lined the streets with their lights flashing, and neighbors emptied their houses to shake Hazeltine’s hand and kiss him on the cheek.Hazeltine’s mother, Christine, was first in line when he pulled up.
The deputies from the Sheriff’s Office lined the driveway into the street to welcome their brother officer home. Capt. Pat Yoes, with the St. Charles Sheriff’s Office, with a huge smile on his face summed up the moment.“It’s a good day.”
While Hazeltine was in the hospital, residents started a porch light vigil with blue lights from the area to Canada.And the deputy welcomed the support.“By the hand of God just five days after I was shot, I am home. I want to first thank everyone who helped with the incident,” he wrote on his Facebook. “I want to thank everyone who has called, texted, messaged, emailed, or visited. Every photo of a blue light really touched me. I know I had blue lights from Georgia to Alaska.”
Hundreds of porch lights across the parish and country shined blue in the darkness for Hazeltine. Local Walmarts ran out of blue light bulbs.The outpouring of support also includes benefit luncheons and church fundraisers for the injured deputy.
On April 16, Hazeltine was shot three times in an apparent ambush shooting just before 9 a.m. while directing school zone traffic on Highway 90 in Paradis. He was shot in the arm, chest and face and was rushed to LSU Interim Hospital where he underwent exploratory surgery to find a bullet lodged behind his right eye.
The accused shooter, John Paul Devillier, was apprehended at the scene by parish deputies. Devillier has been charged with attempted murder and is being held on $1 million bond.
Immediately following the shooting, Hazeltine was assisted at the scene by good Samaritans until EMS and officers arrived. The deputy himself acted as a professional.
“Even with multiple gunshot wounds, Cpl. Hazeltine was able to return fire,” said Sheriff Greg Champagne. “He was able to radio vital information for other responding officers. One of the first comments on the police radio was to advise dispatch to alert the school board to divert buses from the area. That speaks volumes to the caliber of officer Corporal Hazeltine is.”
At the hospital, Hazeltine made progress in his recovery. Champagne reported that his deputy made it to his feet last Saturday. The next day, he walked back and forth to the nurse’s station from his bed and sat in a regular chair. Hazeltine’s family and friends have been equally grateful for the good news.
“I feel blessed,” said Hazeltine’s mother, Christine. Christine described her son as a “Godly man” of strong faith. He was an Eagle Scout, a graduate of Destrehan High School where he was enrolled in R.O.T.C., and later graduated from LSU with a degree in information technology.
Calling Hazeltine a first-rate cop, Sheriff’s Office Lt. George Breedy said he is also a kind guy.
“Burt is a real class act,” Breedy said. “He’s gentle and kind, very mild mannered, family oriented and a religious man. But he’s also the kind of guy who can get the job done.
He’s one of the best at what he does and I’m not the only person who thinks so.”
Hazeltine is a DRE or drug recognition expert. He’s trained to recognize if a person has ingested drugs, the type of drugs used and if there is a combination of drugs ingested.
“There is step-by-step evaluation process to determine this sort of thing,” Breedy said. “And Burt is so good at it, he’s been considered for an instructor’s position since he was a student.”
The morning Hazeltine was shot, it was also the day Hazeltine had been selected for instructor’s training in the DRE classes.
“That’s what I do too – DRE,’ Breedy said. “And, truthfully, Burt was the guy I fully expected to hand the torch to when I retired.”
Breedy, who noted several officers were thinking the same thing the morning they heard their fellow officer had been shot – “he can still be an instructor with one eye.”
Breedy took it even further than that.
“Depending on what he and his family want to do, what the administration wants to do and a based on several other factors first, barring all that, I think he’s still capable of doing the job.”
Breedy thinks the outpouring of support is absolutely awesome.
“Not only is it awesome,” Breedy said. “It’s well deserved.”