A sheriff’s deputy from Colorado was killed when he and fellow officers faced a barrage of gunfire after responding to a call about a disturbance in an apartment complex in a Denver suburb.
Zackari Parrish, a 29-year-old deputy, died Sunday morning, while four other officers were injured. Authorities have released few details about what transpired inside an apartment unit in Highlands Ranch, Colo., a few miles south of Denver, where Parrish and the others responded after receiving a noise complaint. But Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock described the shooting as “an ambush-type attack on our officers.”
“I do know that all of them were shot very, very quickly,” Spurlock said at a news conference. “And they all went down almost within seconds of each other . . . He knew we were coming. We obviously let him know that we were there to investigate a disturbance.”
The officers arrived at the apartment just after 5 a.m. They went inside after one of the residents allowed them in, Spurlock said, and were shot at “almost immediately” as the gunman barricaded himself inside a bedroom.
Parrish was shot multiple times. Officers were able to crawl to safety as bullets continued to rain on them, but they were unable to pull Parrish out because of their injuries, Spurlock said. The suspect was later killed in a shootout with other deputies.
He had unleashed at least 100 rounds during the shootout, Spurlock said.
The wounded officers are Mike Doyle, 28, Taylor Davis, 30, Jeff Pelle, 32, all of whom are sheriff’s deputies, and Tom O’Donnell, 41, an officer with the nearby Castle Rock Police Department. All are listed in stable condition, Spurlock said. The gunman shot two citizens during the shootout, both of whom suffered non-life threatening injuries.
How and why the situation inside the home escalated so quickly remains unclear, but Spurlock said investigators are hoping that footage from the body cameras the officers were wearing would paint a clearer picture. He also said the officers talked to the suspect and his roommate before he barricaded himself.
Authorities have not released the suspect’s name. Spurlock said the man has had encounters with law enforcement in the area, though he had no criminal history.
The sheriff’s office initially said that the officers were responding to a domestic violence incident, but Spurlock said they later realized that wasn’t the case. A neighbor had complained about a noise coming from the apartment, where the suspect and his roommate lived. It was the second noise complaint involving that residence that morning. Spurlock said officers had gone to the apartment a few hours earlier, about 1 a.m., after receiving a call but did not hear any noise or find any problems.
Spurlock said the roommate is cooperating with detectives.
Steven Silknitter, 50, said he was at work when his son called and told him there was a shooter at his apartment complex. He rushed home, but couldn’t get inside the complex because police had blocked the entrance. As he was sitting outside, calling his fiance, who was sleeping inside their apartment, shots rang out.
“After she woke up, we heard about more than a dozen gunshots, a clear exchange of volley of gunshots,” Silknitter, who works as an overnight truck driver while going to school part-time, told The Washington Post.
“Not in Highland Ranch, Colo., not in our apartment. Lived here for three years, quiet, nothing out of the norm. People go to work and [have] families, and then to wake up to a barrage of gunfire just a couple of buildings away from us,” said Silknitter, who said he doesn’t know anything about the suspect.
The shooting prompted a tweet from President Trump, who offered his condolences from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.
Later Sunday, a motorcade escorted Parrish’s body from a hospital. Photos show people holding and waving American flags as the officer’s motorcade passed by.
Parrish began working at the sheriff’s office only eight months ago, Spurlock said. Before that, he was an officer for another police department for two years. He is survived by his wife and two children. Spurlock said he had spoken with Parrish’s widow.
“I can’t tell you how difficult it is for a leader to sit down with the spouse of an officer who’s killed in the line of duty,” Spurlock told reporters. “They had many hopes and dreams. He was doing his job, and he was doing his job well . . . When I sat with his wife and held her hand, I could see in her eyes, her life is over.”
A GoFundMe page to help Parrish’s family has so far raised more than $30,000 as of Sunday afternoon.
Parrish had a brief career in sales before he became a law enforcement officer, according to the page.
“Zack fed off adrenaline,” the page said. “From snowboarding in the backcountry, to his job as a Douglas County police officer, Zack didn’t back down to any challenges or fear.”