Deputy gets shot multiple times while directing traffic in school zone

Deputy gets shot multiple times while directing traffic in school zone
John Paul Devillier (Source: St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office)
John Paul Devillier (Source: St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office)

PARADIS, LA (WAFB) - A St. Charles Parish sheriff's deputy who was shot near a school Thursday was last listed in stable, but guarded condition.

Deputy Burt Hazeltine, 36, was helping direct school traffic when he was shot three times at a gas station along US 90 in Paradis. John Paul Devillier, 56, of Gulfport, Mississippi, was taken into custody. He is charged with attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer, battery of a peace officer (two counts) and resisting an officer by force.

According to Sheriff Greg Champagne, Devillier is a native of St. Charles Parish, but has been living in Mississippi.

"I heard pop, pop, pop," said Robert Doublet. "And I looked and Ryan (his friend) was here and we looked. And I heard pop, pop, pop! I knew it wasn't firecrackers, okay."

Investigators said those pops were the sounds of Hazeltine trying to defend himself from what is being called an "all-out ambush." The sheriff's office said Devillier, a fired TSA agent, got upset with Hazeltine while the deputy was directing traffic and had words with him. From there, it is believed Devillier went to his father's house, which was nearby, before returning to confront the deputy again.

Champagne said as the deputy approached, the suspect dangled one gun out of his truck window to distract the deputy and then shot at him from inside his truck. The bullet holes in the windshield of the suspect's truck indicate where he fired.

"When I looked up again, I saw the police officer that I see there all the time. He's there every morning. He directs the traffic - very nice young man - and saw him walking with his pistol this way. He seemed to be firing the pistol and I heard more fire. And I saw him bend down and he bent over like that, shooting, and he went down and I assumed he was hit," Doublet explained.

Several shots hit Hazeltine. As he tried to shoot back, one of the bullets hit him in the face. Other deputies happened to be training nearby and made it to the scene in a matter of seconds. One of the deputies tried so hard to get into the suspect's truck that he ripped the door handle off. From there, they were able to arrest the suspect and get the deputy to the hospital.

It appears his vest saved Hazeltine's life. All of the activity was enough to rattle the normally quiet morning routine.

"Not very good, because this community, you don't have that. You don't hear about that. We don't hear about people smashing people and the police brutalizing. You don't hear about all that stuff. We don't have all that. We have a very good police department and the police are very friendly and you can talk to the police back here," Doublet added.

Hazeltine is a 12-year veteran of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office. He is married with four children. A benefit fund has been set up for Hazeltine.

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