Zackari “Zack” Parrish, a young, married father who left a banking job to achieve his dreams of becoming a law enforcement officer, was identified as the Douglas County, Colorado sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed by a suspect who also shot multiple other officers.
Sheriff Tony Spurlock confirmed Parrish’s identity in a December 31, 2017 news conference. He described how the suspect opened fire on deputies who arrived to investigate a noise complaint, injuring four of them and killing the 29-year-old Parrish at an apartment complex in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. The suspect, was has been named as Matthew Riehl-More, 37, fired more than 100 rounds.
“He had no ability to survive the injuries. He was hit multiple times,” said the sheriff, whose voice quavered with emotion as he recalled Parrish’s young family, positive personality, and determination to serve. The slain deputy’s full name was given as Zackari Parrish. Deputies Mike Doyle, 28; Taylor Davis, 30; Jeffrey Pelle, 32; and Tom O’Donnell, 31 were injured.
Parrish’s wife, Gracie, spoke at a vigil in his memory.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Zack Parrish Was Remembered as a ‘True God Fearing Man’ Who Gave Scriptural Advice to Friends
Parrish was new to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department. He had only worked for the department for about seven months, transferring from another agency. “He worked for a great police department. His children are young. He has two very young children. His wife, they have a very good support system in place. With the holidays, a lot of people were available to them. We have resources available to her,” said the sheriff.
A GoFundMe site has been set up to help the family. The heartfelt tribute on the page reads:
A true God fearing man, who was a role model, father, husband, and public servant.
Zack fed off adrenaline. From snowboarding in the backcountry, to his job as a Douglas County police officer. Zack didn’t back down to any challenges or fear.
After an early career in sales, Zack fulfilled his dream of becoming a law enforcement officer. First serving for Castle Rock Police Dept, Zack was eager to accept a position with Douglas County Police Dept.
Working the grave yard shift and being a father of two young girls, Zack always had energy during the day to play and take his girls to the park.
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.
The sheriff said that he had spoken with Parrish’s wife, and he described her as devastated. He said that two civilians and four other deputies are in stable condition. “We will take care of Zack’s family… and make sure we can get through it on the other side,” said the Sheriff, adding that over 100 rounds were fired.
On Facebook, most of the public photos shared by Parrish were memorials to slain police officers from other departments, such as the one above from 2016. He also posted a meme with the quote, “God never uses anyone greatly until he tests them deeply.”
One of the wounded deputies is the son of the Boulder County sheriff.
Parrish’s funeral was held on January 5.
In contrast, the shooter identified himself as a libertarian candidate for the Douglas County Sheriff’s position in a disturbing YouTube video. The video is titled, “Fire Sheriff Spurlock.” You can read more about the suspect’s background here:
2. Zack Parrish Once Had a Career in Banking But His Childhood Dream Was to Become a Cop
According to news anchor Kyle Clark, Parrish had given up a safer career in banking because he longed to be a cop. He worked at a Colorado police department before switching to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department. “DCSO Deputy Zackari Parrish left a job in banking to go into law enforcement, calling it ‘a childhood dream that I never thought would become a reality,’ according to Castle Rock PD, where he worked for two years,” Clark wrote.
“Slain DCSO Deputy Zackari Parrish attended Arapahoe Community College Law Enforcement Academy part-time while working full-time at a bank. Graduated as Vice President of his class. (per CRPD),” Clark added.
A friend wrote on the GoFundme page to Parrish’s wife: “Gracie, our hearts and prayers are with your family. I am SO incredibly heartbroken for you and your family. I remember when we did bible study a few years ago together when you husband was transitioning to become a police officer and how excited he was to follow his dreams. I have so many memories of your courage, love and dedication to him and your family. I am here for you sweet friend. Love you.”
The sheriff said that authorities were still trying to get information to determine why the suspect, who has not been identified, shot at the officers. “The four officers all arrived at the same time. I do know that all of them were shot very, very quickly, and they all went down almost within seconds of each other,” said the sheriff. “It was more of an ambush-type attack on our officers. He knew we were coming, and we obviously let him know that we were there to investigate the disturbance.”
A neighbor called 911. The call originally came in as a domestic disturbance “but when the officers got there, they quickly learned it wasn’t a husband-wife kind of thing or boyfriend-girlfriend kind of thing. The suspect was just making a ton of noise and annoying everyone around him,” Sheriff Spurlock said.
3. Parrish, Who Was From Houston, Was Remembered as ‘Eager to Work’ & ‘Eager to Serve’
The sheriff, his voice quivering with emotion, praised Parrish’s demeanor. “This is a tragic day, and this is a tragic day that we will be feeling for a long time,” he said. Flags were lowered outside the Sheriff’s Department in Zackari’s honor, and members of the public had already started to leave flowers.
“Zack was a good kid, a smiley kid… Eager to work and eager to serve. His wife told me today that he loved this job more than he loved any job he had. You get a kid like that, just loving to serve and unfortunately he was called today,” said the sheriff. ““It was very difficult to go see Zack for the last time today. He was doing his job, and he was doing his job well, and his life was taken this morning.”
Parrish was from Houston, Texas, and he graduated from Dallas Baptist University, according to reporter Melissa Correa. “Please pray for the family, friends and fellow officers of the one Deputy deceased, Zack Parrish, a graduate of Second Baptist School, I have several friends who knew him,” a friend wrote on Facebook. “My heart goes out to you all and his family. Pray also for the 4 wounded officers.”
4. Other Officers Tried to Rescue Parrish, Who Was Remembered as the Kind of Deputy Who Went Looking for People in Need & Had Good Borat Impressions
A woman who knew Parrish concurred with the sheriff’s perception of his personality. “The Sheriff described Zack as smiley, and someone who was enthusiastic about his work,” she wrote on Facebook.
“He loved his job, this I know to be true. I spent a day on a ride along with Zack and we had as much fun as we did get work done. He had an appetite to go from call to call to call, and if there wasn’t a call, he would look for someone needing help,” she said.
The friend also described Zackari’s sense of humor. “His Borat impressions were the best, and he spoke lovingly of his wife and girls with frequency. Witnessing his work ethic gave one hope for the future of Law Enforcement. Rest In Peace, sweet friend. May we carry on your spirit of service as you are called out of service one last time. We love you, Brother. Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” she wrote.
When Parrish was shot and went down, the other officers went down around him. They were trying to pull him out but weren’t able to because of their injuries, said the sheriff, adding that Parrish was not conscious at that time. “They were not able to get him out and the suspect continued shooting at the officers,” he said.
The suspect continued to shoot at officers for some time “until he was engaged by officers and was killed,” added the sheriff. The responding officers were members of a joint task force unit. Shortly after the incident occurred, the Sheriff’s Department released a brief statement that read, “Five deputies were shot by a suspect who will not be identified at this time. One deputy has been confirmed deceased. Two civilians have also been shot by the suspect. The suspect has been shot by deputies and is believed to be deceased as well. There is no longer a threat in the area, however, this is still a very active crime scene, deputies will be in the area for an extended period of time.”
5. The Suspect Used a Rifle & Had Previous Contact With Law Enforcement
According to the sheriff, the suspect had previous encounters with law enforcement, although he didn’t provide details. He said the suspect used a rifle to shoot the deputies.
“When the officers arrived at the apartment, they quickly figured out there was some kind of unfortunate circumstance taking place in that apartment and began investigating it and that’s when they were shot.”
President Donald Trump tweeted, “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”