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Louisiana sheriff’s deputy shot three times in ‘apparent ambush’

A St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s deputy investigates the scene. (Brett Duke/ via Associated Press)

A deputy sheriff in Louisiana was shot Thursday morning in what authorities said appeared to be an ambush.

The St. Charles Parish deputy was directing traffic in a school zone in Paradis, about half an hour outside New Orleans, “when he was shot multiple times in an apparent ambush,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

This deputy, identified as Burt Hazeltine, remained in an area hospital in stable condition several hours after the shooting, Greg Champagne, the St. Charles Parish sheriff, said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Police named John Paul Devillier, a St. Charles native, as the person they took into custody for the shooting.

According to Champagne, Devillier was angry about not being able to make a left turn and argued with the officer. He left the scene and returned, eventually firing at Hazeltine from his truck, Champagne said.

Other deputies arrived and, after a scuffle that stretched into a nearby ditch, arrested Devillier.

While police released little information about Devillier, they said in 2013, he was fired by the Transportation Security Administration. That same year, he also got divorced, and he has been living in a hotel, Champagne said.

Hazeltine was shot three times and all three bullets remained lodged in his body. Two of the wounds are very severe, with one bullet striking Hazeltine in the area between his nose and eye, Champagne said. It is possible that Hazeltine will never regain use of that eye, he added.

The deputy was shot in the arm, while another bullet punctured his lung, Champagne said.

Doctors at the hospital in New Orleans where Hazeltine was being treated planned to operate on him Thursday evening, Champagne said.

While Hazeltine is known for wearing his bulletproof vest, he happened not to be wearing it when he was shot, the sheriff said.

“We all had assumed he had it on, because every time we see it he’s had it on,” Champagne said.

This post has been updated. First published: 11:40 a.m.