John Paz was identified as the suspect in the shooting of El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Peery and a woman who has not yet been identified. Paz, 33, was found dead shortly after the shooting, and the woman was also found dead on the scene, law enforcement officials said.
The shooting occurred near a high school at about 5 p.m. Sunday, August 7, 2022, when officers were called to a Ponderosa Drive home for reports of shots fired in Security-Widefield, Colorado, near Colorado Springs. Peery was a married father of two children. He was 39. Read more about him here.
No additional information was immediately released on the female victim, and very limited information was released on Paz. Anyone with information is asked to call the Colorado Springs Police Department at 719-444-7000, which is leading the investigation. Callers who wish to remain anonymous are asked to call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 719-634-STOP(7867) or 800-222-8477.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share Deputy Andrew Peery has been killed in the line of duty,” the El Paso County Sheriff said in a statement.
A procession was held for the fallen deputy at 8:30 p.m. to escort his body from the hospital. It proceeded passed the sheriff’s office, the statement said.
“Please line the streets with your flags for the family,” the sheriff’s office said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Law Enforcement Began a Search for Paz Before He Was Found Dead & a Woman Was Also Found Dead on the Scene
Law enforcement initially began a search for the suspect in the deputy’s slaying, sending out an alert with a photo of Paz. Officials later announced that he was found dead. The Colorado Springs Police Department, which is leading the investigation, said an adult woman was found deceased in the yard where officers were called, and Paz was found dead inside the house.
Police are investigating the deaths of Peery and the woman as homicides. Initial information indicated that Paz died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.
The Colorado Springs Police Department released a statement on their investigation Monday morning, August 8, 2022. It said:
On August 7, 2022, at approximately 5:07 PM, a 911 call was transferred from Fort Carson to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) Communications Center.
The caller reported a shooting in the 500 Block of Ponderosa Drive. This location is in Security-Widefield, which is an unincorporated community within El Paso County. There were additional 911 calls from citizens reporting hearing gunshots in the same area.
Two EPSO patrol deputies and a Fountain Police Department (FPD) officer responded. Upon arrival, they encountered gunfire from the suspect, 33-year-old John Paz. One of the EPSO deputies, 39-year-old Andrew Peery, was struck and gravely injured.
Deputies were able to return fire and, once additional personnel arrived, they immediately began lifesaving measures on Deputy Peery. Deputy Peery was transported via ambulance to an area hospital; however, he succumbed to his injuries.
While at the scene, deputies and officers located a deceased adult female in the front yard of a residence in the 500 block of Ponderosa Drive.
Detectives from the CSPD Homicide/Assault Unit obtained a search warrant for this residence and the CSPD Tactical Enforcement Unit (TEU) subsequently entered the home. TEU found John Paz deceased inside, due to an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
While the El Paso County Coroner’s Office will make the official cause and manner of death determinations for all three individuals, the deaths of Deputy Peery and the adult female are being investigated as homicides committed by John Paz.
In accordance with Colorado Revised Statute 16-2.5-301, the Colorado Springs Police Department is the lead investigative agency for the officer-involved shooting. CSPD will also take lead investigative responsibilities for the homicide of Deputy Peery and the adult female.
The EPSO deputy identified as having fired their weapon has been placed on administrative leave per their department policies. No Fountain Police Department or CSPD officers fired a weapon during this incident.
All information regarding the deadly force investigation and the homicides will come from CSPD. Information regarding the law enforcement officers involved in this incident will come from EPSO.
2. Residents Near Widefield High School Were Told to Shelter in Place After Reports of Shots Fired in the Area
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office sent out an alert to locals telling people in the area of the shooting to shelter in place.
“There is law enforcement activity in the area of Ponderosa Dr / Grand Blvd. Secure home and stay away from the doors / windows,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Twitter, sharing a map point of the shooting location. “Shelter in place. Lock all windows and door and draw all curtains and window coverings. Dial 9-1-1 if you have a life or death emergency at this time.”
Another person who worked with Peery, Jason Garrett, wrote in a Facebook post that Peery represented the best in law enforcement by running into the danger to protect others.
While people were sheltering, Andrew went TO the danger. It cost him his life. The Thin Blue Line is real, and he personified it. I refuse to allow the naysayers to redefine that phrase as something negative. I worked with him day in and day out for 2 years on SWAT and as such can testify he was passionate, brave, led well, followed well, and put everything he had and more into being a proficient operator. He was also roundly loved by all who knew and worked with him. He was the best of us. Please remember his blood and blue family.
3. Peery Was a Decorated Deputy Who Joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2016
Peery joined the El Paso Sheriff’s Office in 2016, Elder said in a press conference. He was a highly decorated officer and worked as a SWAT operator for the sheriff.
“Andrew was a highly dedicated, highly decorated SWAT operator for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and he has been with my office since 2016,” Elder said in the news conference in the hours after the shooting.
Peery previously worked for the Bakersfield Police Department, the county seat of Kern County, California, according to the Kern County District Attorney. Kern County is located in the Central Valley. The city had a population of about 380,000 in 2020, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
3. Investigators Believe Paz Died From a Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound
Based on initial information, the Colorado Springs Police Department said officials believe Paz died inside the Ponderosa Drive, Colorado home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The El Paso County Coroner’s Office will determine the official cause of death for Paz, Peery, and the woman, the police department said.
Law enforcement initially said they were searching for Paz, and soon found him dead inside the home, which is located in the Security-Widefield area. Residents in the area were told to shelter in place, and police said there was no longer a threat after Paz was found dead.
“We can now confirm the scene is secure and there is no longer a threat to the public. This is a very complex investigation and our detectives will be on scene for several hours,” the Colorado Springs Police Department wrote on Twitter. “Please continue to avoid the area. We will release more information as appropriate.”
4. Peery Was the Son of an LAPD Officer & a Native of Central Valley California
Peery came from a law enforcement family, officials said. Peery’s father, David Peery, was an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department who later became an investigator with the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, the DA’s office said in a statement. Andrew Peery was a native of Kern County, California, and previously worked as a police officer in the county’s largest city.
“We are very sad to share news that #EPCSO Deputy Andrew Peery was killed in the line of duty. He was a Kern native & previously employed at @bakersfieldpd,” the district attorney’s office said. “His late father, David Peery, was an officer at #LAPD & later a KCDA Investigator. Our hearts & prayers are w/ the family.”
Peery’s brother, Matt Peery, is a retired sergeant with the Bakersfield Police Department, which sent out condolences to Peery’s family.
“Today is a somber day for the entire Bakersfield Police Department Family as El Paso County Deputy Andrew Peery who previously worked for BPD was killed in the line of duty last night,” Kevin Burton wrote on Facebook. “Please keep his entire family, his brother Matt Peery, retired Sgt BPD, El Paso County Sheriff Department, and Bakersfield Police Department in your thoughts and prayers.”
5. Peery Was an Iraq War Veteran & Leaves Behind a Wife & 2 Children
Peery was also a military veteran who served in Iraq with the U.S. Army, according to Matthew Baden, a friend who said they served together.
His sister, Katie Schneider, wrote in a Facebook post that Peery was a dedicated father to his two children.
“Andrew is my brother. I am at a total loss for words,” she wrote. “He was a great man who loved his job and his kids more than anything! It’s amazing to see all the support for him. Love and miss you Andrew!!”
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