HAHNVILLE, La. – A judge on Friday set bond at $1 million for the man suspected of shooting and seriously wounding a St. Charles sheriff’s deputy during an apparent road rage incident a day earlier.
Meanwhile, Cpl. Burt Hazeltine remained hospitalized but in stable condition after an hours-long surgery Thursday night.
John Paul Devillier was jailed on a count of attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer, two counts of battery of a peace officer and a count of resisting a peace officer by force.
The 58-year-old Gulfport, Mississippi, man’s first hearing before 29th Judicial District Judge Emile St. Pierre on Friday was brief and took place via a video connection.
St. Pierre said he would appoint an indigent defender to represent Devillier, The New Orleans Advocate reported.
Devillier is suspected of opening fire on Hazeltine, hitting him three times, while he directed traffic in a school zone on Highway 90 in Paradis Thursday morning.
St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne has said that Devillier became irate after having to wait for traffic and exchanged words with Hazeltine, who has worked with the Sheriff’s Office for more than a decade.d
Champagne said during a Thursday afternoon press conference that Devillier, who was in the parish for a family event, called the Sheriff’s Office to complain about Hazeltine and identified himself as an “NCIS agent.”
Apparently still in a rage, Devillier returned to the school zone where Hazeltine was stationed and began to yell at the deputy.
Hazeltine got out of his cruiser to speak to Devillier, according to Champagne, when he noticed a gun on Devillier’s dashboard.
Champagne has said that Hazeltine pulled out his service revolver, at which time Devillier stuck his hand out of the car and dangled the gun as if to surrender. At the same time, Devillier fired through his vehicle’s windshield with a second gun.
“That’s an ambush in my book,” the sheriff said.
Several deputies who were attending a training session on how to handle a report of an officer down were nearby and responded quickly. Champagne said Devillier threw his guns out of his truck when the deputies approached but had to be forcibly taken from the vehicle.
Hazeltine returned fire but did not hit Devillier. The deputy, though, was hit three times, with one shot lodged behind his eye socket. Another bullet struck him in the arm, and the third hit him in the chest.
Champagne said Hazeltine was known for always wearing his bulletproof vest but did not have it on Thursday.
“He was lucky (to survive),” Champagne said. “He has some serious wounds – chest wounds. I have confidence this team at … (the hospital) is the best.”
Capt. Pat Yoes, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said Friday morning that Hazeltine was alert and stable following his surgery. His injuries are not life-threatening, Yoes said.
But Hazeltine, a married father of four, might lose sight in the eye where the bullet lodged.
Devillier’s next hearing is set for May 19.
New Orleans Advocate reporter Matt Sledge contributed to this report.