DESTREHAN, La. — Cheers filled Shriner’s Hall in Destrehan as deputies wheeled Corporal Burt Hazeltine into the room.
A week ago Thursday, investigators say an irate driver shot the St. Charles Parish lawman three times as Hazeltine directed traffic in a Paridis school zone.
“I’m home,” Hazeltine told reporters. “For the most part, I’m feeling pretty good, considering we’re a week out from the incident.”
Hazeltine has gunshot wounds to the arm, chest and left eye.
“Due to some of my injuries, I’ve got limited strength,” Hazeltine said.
Thousands of people showed up at a benefit lunch for Hazeltine and his family.
Herb and Brenda Leray were among those buying a $10 plate lunch at the fundraiser. They live in Paridis and heard the gun shots when the veteran officer and father of four went down.
“Well, it’s upsetting,” Herb Leray said. “I’m glad to be here to support him. I wish I could help him as much as I can.”
“You just don’t think of anything like that happening, here or anywhere,” Brenda Leray said. “It’s pitiful.”
Hazeltine’s wife Mandy spoke about getting the call all police spouses dread.
“The dispatcher said there’s somebody coming to your house, and as a police wife, we know what that means,” she said. “I don’t think I could breathe. I don’t think I breathed for a few hours. I think that was my first prayer, oh God, help me to breathe.”
Burt Hazeltine said there is no question he would like to return to active duty with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office as soon as he recovers from his injuries.
“It’s about going out there, making a difference, one stop at a time, one arrest at a time and just doing what we can, to make this, our community a better place to live and to travel through,” he said. “I wouldn’t choose to do anything else.”
Hazeltine said it could take him months of rehabilitation to gain back his strength. He will see a specialist to determine if the vision loss in his left eye is permanent.