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Gunman ambushes deputies at Douglas County apartments, killing 1, wounding 6

By: Chhun Sun
December 31, 2017 Updated: January 1, 2018 at 7:17 am
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photo - Zackari Parrish, 29 (Photo courtesy of Douglas County Sheriff's Office)
Zackari Parrish, 29 (Photo courtesy of Douglas County Sheriff's Office) 

HIGHLANDS RANCH — A Douglas County sheriff’s deputy was killed Sunday by a gunman who fired more than 100 rounds in what authorities called an “ambush” at an apartment complex south of Denver that left four other officers and two residents injured.

The shooter, identified by authorities as Matthew Riehl, 37, was killed by law enforcement officers about an hour after gunfire erupted at the Copper Canyon Apartments. According to media reports, Riehl was an Army reservist who had served in Iraq from 2009-2010, and was honorably discharged in 2012.

He was well-known to law enforcement in the Denver area for his online rants against law enforcement agencies.

 

The slain deputy was identified as 29-year-old Zachari Parrish, a married father of two young children who had been with the Sheriff’s Office for seven months after two years with the Castle Rock Police Department, Spurlock said.

“I can’t tell you how difficult it is to sit down with a spouse of a deputy who has been killed in the line of duty,” the haggard-looking sheriff said at a news conference later Sunday. “They had many hopes and dreams. He was doing his job, and doing his job well, and his life was taken from us this morning.

“I sat with his wife and held her hand and I could see in her eyes her life is over.”

President Donald Trump and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper each offered their condolences to the family and Sheriff’s Office.

“The call to protect and serve too often leads to this ultimate sacrifice,” Hickenlooper said in a statement issued by his office. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the family and friends of Officer Parrish. Our hearts are with all who are impacted by this tragedy.”

Trump expressed sorrow about the attack, saying on Twitter, “My deepest condolences to the victims of the terrible shooting in Douglas County ... and their families. We love our police and law enforcement — God bless them all!”

Spurlock said the deadly confrontation began earlier in the morning with a neighbor reporting what they believed was a domestic disturbance at the complex 16 miles south of Denver.

Parrish was among several officers who responded to the reported disturbance just before 6 a.m. at the apartment complex in the 3400 block of County Line Road near Colorado Boulevard.

Two men lived in the apartment, and the disturbance seemed to be noise-related rather than a domestic argument or fight.

“The suspect was just making a ton of noise and annoying everyone around him,” Spurlock said.

The wounded officers attempted to pull Parrish, who was hit several times, to safety, but were unable to because of their wounds, Spurlock said at the news conference. All were wearing bulletproof vests, but were hit in unprotected areas, the Denver Post reported.

“I do know that all of them were shot very, very quickly. They all went down almost within seconds of each other, so it was more of an ambush-type of attack on our officers,” Spurlock said. “He knew we were coming and we obviously let him know that we were there.”

The wounded officers are sheriff’s deputies Michael Doyle, 28, Taylor Davis, 30, Jeffrey Pelle, 32, and Castle Rock Police Officer Tom 0’Donnell, 41. All were in stable condition. Pelle is the son of Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said his son, Douglas County sheriff's deputy Jeff Pelle, underwent surgery from injuries suffered in the attack and was recovering.

The gunman was shot and killed around 7:30 a.m. by officers with a regional task force that responded after the Sheriff’s Office issued an alert that it had multiple officers down and warned residents to remain in their homes and away from windows and doors.

Two residents of the complex who were wounded had non-life threatening injuries.

Parrish’s body was taken from Littleton Adventist Hospital in a black hearse, accompanied by dozens of law enforcement vehicles and motorcycles as it drove south on Broadway toward C-470, the Denver Post reported. Firefighters stood, saluting, on their trucks along the procession route, and some residents stood on street corners with American flags.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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