DESTREHAN, LA (WVUE) - A St. Charles Parish deputy who was shot a week ago made a public appearance Thursday in Destrehan.
Corp. Burt Hazeltine was shot three times April 16 while working a detail directing traffic in a school zone in Paradis.
"For the most part, you know, I'm feeling pretty good,” Hazeltine said to members of the news media.
Though he arrived in wheelchair, he was able to stand.
"I've got limited, you know, limited use, limited strength is a better word, so it's kind of awkward moving around at times,” Hazeltine said.
Hundreds were inside the Shriner's Hall in the Ormond Estates Subdivision shortly after the doors opened, and hundreds more waited outside to get in.
"I just can't - I couldn't imagine that there would be this much support,” Hazeltine said.
Last Thursday morning, Hazeltine was shot three times during an ambush. The sheriff's office said John Paul Devillier, who lives in Gulfport, Miss., apparently became upset because the officer did not stop traffic to let him turn off of Highway 90 onto Louisiana Street.
"I do believe that it is through those prayers and through the hand of God that I have been able to - first of all - be injured as little as I was, and to be able to be outside a hospital just a week after being shot three times,” Hazeltine said.
One of the bullets lodged behind his left eye. In speaking to members of the media, Hazeltine reflected on the dangers of being in law enforcement.
"And most of us think that this will never be me, but you know it's, I wouldn't choose, I wouldn't choose to do anything else,” he said.
His wife held his hand as he spoke. She said when she initially heard he had been hurt, she found it hard to breathe. But she said once she made it to the hospital, his spirit bolstered her own strength.
"He smiled at me, he wanted to kiss me, he pulled me down to kiss him. I'm like, whoa, trying to absorb it all,” said Mandy Hazeltine.
Hazeltine was working a paid detail when he was shot and wounded, and the sheriff said the money raised during the fundraiser will help fill some of the holes left in the family's budget. As he recovers, Hazeltine won't be able to bring in extra income as he was accustomed to doing.
"He's not going to miss a dollar, not a penny in salary or benefits, but they're not going to be able to do that off-duty stuff for a while, so they need to supplement their income,” said Sheriff Greg Champagne.
"Look at this, look at all the people around, this is a great community,” said Cristin Weems, who was supporting the fundraiser.
"A lot of negativity that you see in the public, and it's good to see that we have support for officers in the community,” said Mike Archuleta, who works in law enforcement.
As for Hazeltine, he's looking forward to returning to active duty one day.
"One step at a time, one day at a time,” he said.
The fundraiser continues until 8 p.m., and donations can be made online here: