DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - A man identified by a law enforcement official as the gunman who killed a suburban Denver sheriff's deputy and wounded six others on Dec. 31, posted repeated online rants against law enforcement in the area.
Fallen Deputy Zack Parrish, 29. Photo: CBS4/DCSO
Law enforcement officials say Matthew Riehl was the man who shot the five members of law enforcement and two civilians as the officers responded to a complaint at the apartment in Douglas County. The official had been briefed on the investigation but spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.
Riehl posted a YouTube video Dec. 13 calling for the firing of Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock and railing against him in highly personal terms.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office confirmed the incident, stating more than 100 rounds from a rifle were fired from an unnamed suspect in an "ambush style attack." Riehl was shot and killed by law enforcement.
The deputy who lost his life was identified as Zackari Parrish III, just 29 years old. He is survived by his wife and two young children. According to his grandmother who spoke with 11 News, his children are two girls, ages 1 and 4 years old.
The grandmother said Parrish used to work as a banker before deciding to join law enforcement. He was warned in his past about the dangers of the job but insisted he wanted to help the community.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office said prior to joining their team about seven months ago, he served as an officer with the Castle Rock Police Department. The sheriff's office said they are deeply saddened by the loss of Parrish.
"This is a tragic day and this is a tragic day we will be feeling for a long time," said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock. "Zack was a good kid. His wife told me today he loved this job more than he loved any other job he had. Unfortunately, he was called today."
A procession and funeral service were held Friday. To watch the full videos, click here.
On Monday, Jan. 8, the sheriff's office released the following video statement, showing officer body camera footage and audio recordings. The video may be difficult to watch for some:
The sheriff's office first told 11 News the situation was, "not looking good for us" shortly after the first shots were fired.
The shooting happened in the 3400 block of County Line Road. That's between Colorado Boulevard and University Boulevard in Highlands Ranch.
The incident began when deputies responded to a domestic disturbance, later called a mental health call, following a noise complaint called in by a neighbor just before 5:15 a.m. at the Copper Canyon Apartments. Two males were inside an apartment. Once deputies arrived, they were let inside the apartment and almost immediately after they stepped inside, the shots were fired from the suspect as he barricaded himself inside a bedroom.
Deputies said they were familiar with the suspect, but did not elaborate how as of Sunday afternoon. They also confirmed they were called to the same apartment around 3 a.m. Sunday for another noise complaint, but when they arrived, they did not hear any loud noises, so they left the area.
The other four law enforcement officers who were shot are all in stable condition. Three of them are with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. They are deputies Mike Doyle, Taylor Davis and Jeff Pelle. One officer, Tom O'Donnell, is with the Castle Rock Police Department. Two other residents at the apartment complex were also shot. They were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle and his wife, Stephanie, confirmed with 11 News Deputy Jeff Pelle, who was shot, is their son. They released the following statement:
"Earlier this morning, our son, Douglas County sheriff’s deputy, Jeff Pelle, was shot during the Copper Canyon shooting. Jeff underwent surgery as a result of his injuries, and is recovering. Additional information about the shooting, Jeff's specific involvement and injuries, and other details about the incident will be released by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office (@dcsheriff on Twitter) as their investigation allows. We are currently with our son and his wife. He is in good spirits considering the gravity and severity of what occurred earlier this morning. Our hearts ache for all those involved, and we are not only praying for Jeff's recovery, but for the recovery of everyone involved, and for the family of the fallen deputy."
During the incident, deputies warned the public to avoid the area. County Line Road from Colorado to University boulevards was closed, as well as C-470 between Quebec Street and University Boulevard.
A "Code Red" was sent to residents in the area, warning people to shelter in place and to avoid windows and exterior walls. Just before noon, the shelter in place was lifted.
A Code Red was sent out regarding this incident. Any citizens in the affected area are instructed to shelter in place, avoid windows and stay away from exterior walls. pic.twitter.com/RgutCEqgJA
Because of the incident, deputies said several law enforcement agencies were on "accident alert." That included Douglas County, Parker Police Department, Lone Tree Police Department, Castle Rock Police Department and Colorado State Patrol.
Around 9 a.m., an emergency shelter was set up at the Highlands Ranch Recreation Center at Eastridge at 9568 University Boulevard for anyone displaced from their house during the investigation. By noon, most residents were allowed back inside their apartment.
Due to the size and cope of this investigation an emergency shelter has been set up @ East Ridge Rec Center, located at 9568 University Blvd. in Highlands Ranch. If anyone has been displaced from their homes due to this event please feel free to head there.
Around 10 a.m., a procession involving several first responders was held for Parrish from Littleton Adventist Hospital through the county.
On Monday, a memorial service was announced that it would be held Friday at the Cherry Hills Community Church. On Wednesday the sheriff's office announced the service would be open to the public.
On Tuesday, the chief local Colorado Springs Police Department announced, "With a heavy heart, I authorize the wearing of the mourning band in the 2 o’clock to 8 o’clock position through midnight of the day of the service, in respect for Deputy Parrish."
The department said the clock position of the band to be placed over the badges of officers represents a person's hand over their heart.
The sheriff's office has a Fallen Officer Fund set up for the families and Parrish. If you would like to help, click here.
There is also a GoFundMe page for the Parrish family. If you would like to donate there, click here.
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