NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The man accused of shooting St. Charles Parish deputy Corp. Burt Hazeltine is being held in jail on a $1 million bond. He appeared in court via video conference Friday morning.
Sheriff Greg Champagne said Hazeltine is alert but still in a lot of pain.
“We're confident that he is going to survive and be ok. We're just mainly concerned about his eyesight,” Champagne said.
Police said John Paul Devillier seemed to lead Hazeltine into an ambush Thursday morning as the deputy worked a school zone traffic detail in Paradis.
“My SWAT team was training 2 miles away from this incident, and they were training on officer-down shooting and trauma recovery. Ironically, at the same time, this happens. That's why we had so many people on the scene within a minute,”Champagne said.
They captured Devillier on the scene. Investigators say he shot Hazeltine three times, once in the chest where a bullet pierced his lung. Hazeltine was also shot in the arm and eye, where a bullet fragment was lodged between his eye socket and nasal passage.
Hazeltine underwent a four-hour surgery Thursday night.
“They're confident that they will be able to save his eye. There were some tears from the bullet fragment. His left eye vision, it's still unsure if he'll be able to regain his eyesight. They're not so optimistic about that,” Champagne said.
Champagne said it's unclear why Devillier decided to ambush Hazeltine. Still, he said the incident raises a level of concern about the atmosphere of police-involved shootings around the country.
“There's just such a hostile attitude right now. My concern is that, is this bringing out the violence in some of these people who are living in the shadows, with sort of reserved hatred,” Champagne said.
Champagne said in his 19 years in office, there's never been a police-involved shooting like the one that injured Hazeltine. Still, he's grateful for the support so many have already given to his department.
Fellow officers want to help Hazeltine and his family. The St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office and Fraternal Order of Police have established a benefit fund through the Louisiana FOP Foundation. One hundred percent of the tax-deductible donations will go directly to Hazeltine.