HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colorado — A gunman killed a sheriff’s deputy and wounded six others Sunday before dying in a hail of gunfire, a bloody scene that shook this quiet suburban community on the last day of the year.
Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish, 29, was killed in a hail of gunfire after the gunman began firing on police from a bedroom inside an apartment as they responded shortly after 5 a.m. to a disturbance at the Copper Canyon Apartment Homes.
“Zack was always there for his friends. Giving scriptural advice to friends in need of advice, or offering up his free time to help his buddies with home projects. Zack was selfless and a true friend to anyone that knew him.” #KDVR pic.twitter.com/X0V63cVFmD
— Ashley Michels (@ReporterAshley) December 31, 2017
The shooter, identified as 37-year-old Matthew Riehl, fired off more than 100 rounds from his rifle, wounding four other officers and two civilians before he was killed at the scene.
“All of them were shot very, very quickly, and they all went down almost within seconds of each other,” said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock at a press conference. “It was more of an ambush-type of an attack on our officers. He knew we were coming and we obviously let him know that we were there to investigate the disturbance.”
Riehl had a history with local law enforcement: He posted a YouTube video Dec. 13 called “Fire Sheriff Spurlock,” accusing the department of harassment, and had exchanged angry tweets with the sheriff’s office.
Matthew Riehl, suspect in ambush of Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies, deployed to Iraq 2009-2010. Honorably discharged 2012 after nine years in Army Reserve. #9News pic.twitter.com/rJUqh78R9l
— Kyle Clark (@KyleClark) December 31, 2017
The suspect did a tour of duty in Iraq from 2009-10, and was honorably discharged from the Army Reserve after enlisting in 2003, according to 9News in Denver.
The officers responded at 3 a.m. to an initial report of a “verbal disturbance” involving two men at the apartment complex on County Line Road.
“Both males were at the apartment, one male said the suspect was acting bizarre and might be having a mental breakdown,” said the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office report.
Officers left the scene at 3:44 a.m. but returned at 5:17 a.m. and were given a key and permission to enter the apartment by a male.
“At 5:56 a.m., four officers were hit by rifle rounds from the suspect’s bedroom,” said the report. “Three of the deputies were able to get to safety; however, the fourth officer, Deputy Parrish, was not able to retreat.”
A SWAT team entered the apartment at 7:30 a.m. and exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was killed.
Sheriff Spurlock described Deputy Parrish as “a smiley kid” who had worked for the department for seven months after previously serving two years with the Castle Rock Police Department, also located in Douglas County.
The slain deputy was survived by his wife and two small children.
“I spent some time with his wife,” said Sheriff Spurlock. “I can’t tell you how difficult it is for a leader to sit down with the spouse of an officer who was killed in the line of duty. They had many hopes and dreams, and he was doing his job, and he was doing his job well.”
He said the four officers injured were in stable condition. They were identified as Douglas County sheriff’s deputies Michael Doyle, 28; Jeff Pelle, 32, and Taylor Davis, 30, and Catle Rock SWAT officer Thomas O’Donnell, 41.
The two civilians were not identified, but Sheriff Spurlock said they sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
President Trump tweeted his condolences to the shooting victims, adding, “We love our police and law enforcement—God Bless them all!”
My deepest condolences to the victims of the terrible shooting in Douglas County @DCSheriff, and their families. We love our police and law enforcement – God Bless them all! #LESM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2017
A GoFundMe page was established for Deputy Parrish’s family.
Sheriff Spurlock said this was the first time an officer had been killed during his tenure as sheriff in Douglas County, located about 20 miles south of Denver.
Shootings of any kind are rarein Highlands Ranch, an affluent suburb named in 2016 by Money magazine as one of the 10 best places in the nation to live, in part because “crime is low.”
“I’ve been a blessed sheriff,” he said, adding, “My deputies have been shot, run over, and they’ve survived. It was very difficult today to go see Zach for the last time.”
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