The call came in late on Wednesday night, the authorities said. The police were needed at a house in suburban Bristol, Conn., to investigate a possible domestic dispute.
When three Bristol police officers arrived, they were met by a man with a gun, the authorities said. Shots were fired, and Sgt. Dustin Demonte, 35, and Officer Alex Hamzy, 34, were killed in what officials are describing as an apparent ambush.
The suspected gunman, Nicholas Brutcher, 35, was also shot and killed at the scene, the Connecticut State Police said. Another police officer, Alec Iurato, 26, suffered a severe gunshot wound that required surgery, and the suspect’s brother, Nathan Brutcher, 32, was also wounded.
On Thursday, as flags across Connecticut were lowered to half-staff and members of the state’s law-enforcement agencies mourned their slain colleagues, the State Police were investigating what might have led Nicholas Brutcher to open fire on three officers of the law.
In a statement, the State Police said that the initial 911 report might have been a ruse, saying its investigation suggested the call had been placed in a “deliberate act to lure” officers to the home on Redstone Hill Road in Bristol. Officials did not explain what led them to that preliminary conclusion. They have also not said who fired first.
The State Police referred further questions to the state’s attorney’s office, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Bristol, best known as the home of sports network ESPN, is a town in central Connecticut of about 60,000 that is about 80 miles northeast of Midtown Manhattan. The call to its Police Department came at 10:29 p.m. on Wednesday, reporting a possible conflict between two brothers, Sgt. Christine Jeltema of the Connecticut State Police said.
When the police arrived, Nicholas Brutcher was already standing outside the house and soon shot at the officers, officials said. Mr. Hamzy was shot dead at the scene, while Sergeant Demonte was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead there.
Officer Iurato, who was hired in 2018, was taken to surgery at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Chief Brian Gould of the Bristol Police Department said. He was released from the hospital after 11 a.m. Thursday, officials said.
Nathan Brutcher, who was also shot, was taken to a hospital for treatment. His condition is unknown, and it was not clear whether he had been shot by the police or by his brother. But officials have not identified him as a suspect in the attack.
Neighbors said they were shocked on Thursday morning as police officers swarmed their quiet residential area. Several reported hearing screaming and at least a dozen gunshots the night of the shooting.
Norberto Rodriguez, who lives across the street from where the shooting occurred, said that on Wednesday night he saw a man dressed in camouflage emerge from the house with a gun. Another man ran out, apparently to restrain him, and the man with the rifle shot the second man, Mr. Rodriguez said.
Robyn Lauzon, who lives nearby, said she heard a series of rapid gunshots and then “a woman yelling, ‘You killed them.’”
“She was screaming it like bloody murder, but we don’t know who she was yelling it about,” Ms. Lauzon said. “Then every siren in the world came.”
The incident was all the more shocking for its setting, she added.
“It’s a little sleepy town where this kind of thing doesn’t happen,” Ms. Lauzon said. “I’ve never heard a gunshot in my life.”
Chief Gould called Wednesday’s shooting an act of “senseless violence.”
The State Police’s major crimes unit is continuing to investigate what may have led to the attack, officials said. WABC, a television station, reported that the shooting happened after the police responded to an altercation at a bar in Bristol, according to a police officer whom the station did not name. The New York Times has not independently confirmed the report.
Gov. Ned Lamont in a statement called the shooting a “devastating reminder of the dangers that police officers face every day.” He ordered that flags in the state be lowered in the slain officers’ honor.
Across the country, fewer police officers have been shot this year nationwide than last.
According to data collected by the FBI, 49 law enforcement officers have been slain in the first nine months of 2022, compared with 54 during the same period in 2021. But ambushes have accounted for 10 of those deaths in 2022, twice as many as the year before.
On Thursday evening, Mr. Lamont attended a vigil and gathering at Bristol Eastern High School, where Officer Hamzy had been a student. The school’s auditorium was filled, with town residents filling seats and uniformed police officers standing along the walls to pay their respects.
“This is a very difficult night for our community,” Bristol’s mayor, Jeff Caggiano, said at the vigil.
Sergeant Demonte was hired by the Bristol police in 2012 and was promoted to his rank last year. Though the department, which has 122 officers, most recently assigned him to the patrol division, he had also served as a resource officer at two public schools in Bristol.
The Bristol Public Schools superintendent, Catherine M. Carbone, said in a letter to parents and students that “Sergeant Demonte was extraordinarily gifted at connecting with our students, and those of us who worked with him considered ourselves fortunate to call him a friend.”
Sergeant Demonte is survived by his wife and two children, and the couple had a third child on the way, Chief Gould said.
Officer Hamzy, who was raised in Bristol, began working for the police department in 2014, Chief Gould said. He is survived by his wife.
“These individuals truly, truly enjoyed serving this community,” Chief Gould said at the vigil on Thursday night. “And they’re heroes, and that’s what we need to remember them as.”
The vigil was one of several tributes given to the two slain officers. Around 7 a.m. on Thursday, a motorcade of police vehicles, with emergency lights flashing, had accompanied Sergeant Demonte’s body to the medical examiner’s office in Farmington.
Hours later, around 11 a.m., another procession took Mr. Hamzy’s body from the crime scene to the same office. Officers from a wide number of Connecticut law-enforcement agencies lined nearby streets to pay their respects as it passed.
Reporting was contributed by Kristin Hussey, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Mike Ives and Jenny Gross.