Lt. Glenn Hutto Jr. spent the final moments of his life doing what he was best known for — standing beside his subordinates and showing them what it means to protect and serve.

The veteran Baton Rouge police officer was killed Sunday afternoon when a homicide suspect opened fire on police, leaving Hutto dead and another officer hospitalized in critical condition.

He "led from the front — not from behind," one of his subordinates wrote on social media in the hours following his death. "This is a man of true courage."

Hutto served 21 years with the Baton Rouge Police Department, spending most of his career as a crime scene investigator before shifting to uniform patrol supervisor. His colleagues remembered him Tuesday as someone who demonstrated an unwavering devotion to his fellow officers, a devotion that earned him widespread respect throughout the department.

"He wasn't sitting behind a desk waiting to see how things played out. He was right there with us," said Cpl. Adam Rhodes, a member of Hutto's squad. "That's the man he was. Whether we invited him or not, he was coming."

His colleagues said the shooting itself was shocking and tragic, but Hutto's actions during the attack were unsurprising: the fact that he was on the front lines protecting his officers, even when that meant making the ultimate sacrifice.

Hutto, 45, leaves behind a wife and four daughters.

The homicide suspect who attacked police, Ronnie Kato, is accused of killing his girlfriend's stepfather Sunday morning during a domestic dispute. He then fled the scene. Police later received a tip that Kato was at a house on Conrad Drive in Baton Rouge's Howell Park neighborhood.

Hutto's First District squad responded to that address in hopes of making contact with Kato. When the officers arrived on scene, Hutto and Cpl. Derrick Maglone went around the back of the house to make sure the suspect didn't escape in that direction.

Kato is accused of opening fire with an assault style rifle as he encountered the officers. He killed Hutto and then stood over the dead officer, continuing to fire at close range, according to his arrest report. Kato then barricaded himself inside the house but was arrested hours later without incident.

Maglone, 35, was hospitalized with critical injuries from the shooting, but his family said Tuesday he's making "remarkable progress." He has served seven years with the department.

His older sister, Tania Langlois, said it's unclear whether Maglone is aware of Hutto's death as his memories of the events Sunday afternoon remain spotty. She said her brother can communicate but sometimes seems too tired. He's now swallowing on his own and able to walk short distances, two accomplishments doctors were worried might pose a bigger obstacle.

"I think he's listening the whole time," she said. "He's so tough. He's fighting."

Langlois said her brother has "always been about protecting the community." Their father was East Feliciana sheriff for more than a decade and their uncle, former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson, spoke alongside Langlois at an emotional press conference outside Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge.

"They do it because they love it, not because it's easy," Langlois said, sending her family's heartfelt condolences to Hutto's loved ones.

Local law enforcement agencies organized a funeral procession for Hutto on Tuesday afternoon, escorting his body from the coroner's office in north Baton Rouge to a funeral home downtown. Dozens of people — both law enforcement officers and civilians — gathered along Government Street near the funeral home entrance.

Many onlookers dressed in blue to show their support of law enforcement, some wearing face masks amid the ongoing coronavirus threat, which has drastically altered the grieving process for families in mourning since large gatherings are banned. Typically the police department would host a massive funeral service for an officer killed in the line of duty, but the current restrictions make that impossible at least for the time being.

Two flags were hoisted above Government Street, one American flag and another with the Louisiana state seal. A wooden cross was suspended behind them and the procession passed underneath, led by dozens of BRPD motormen. Others flanked a black hearse carrying the body as a police helicopter whirred overhead.

"Officers of the Baton Rouge Police Department will make the ultimate sacrifice for our community," leaders of the Baton Rouge Union of Police said in a statement responding to Hutto's death. "This is something they have done in the past, and they will continue to do in the future. … Our community is blessed to have this type of undeniable dedication."

Hutto's colleagues said he was a college student majoring in physics decades ago when he realized police work was his calling. He remained a "walking encyclopedia" but his passion for law enforcement never wavered, said BRPD spokesman Sgt. L'Jean McKneely Jr.

Officer Simon Newsome, who graduated from the department's most recent academy last summer, said he requested to join Hutto's squad because of his reputation as a supervisor who mentored young officers.

"The things he did every day — up until and including Sunday — he was acting in our best interest," Newsome said. "As we continue forward, we will carry on his legacy because he made us better at our jobs. He made us better officers."


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.