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Gov. John Hickenlooper orders flags lowered across Colorado to honor slain Douglas County deputy

Author: Ernest Luning - January 1, 2018 - Updated: January 1, 2018

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David Morgan, front, of Highlands Ranch, holds an American flag as a procession of law enforcement vehicles pass by along with a hearse carrying the body of officer shot and killed while responding to a call Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in the Denver suburb. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)David Morgan, front, of Highlands Ranch, holds an American flag as a procession of law enforcement vehicles pass by along with a hearse carrying the body of officer shot and killed while responding to a call Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in the Denver suburb. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Sunday afternoon ordered flags lowered to half-staff immediately on all public buildings statewide until sunset Tuesday in honor of Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish, who died in the line of duty responding to a domestic disturbance at an apartment complex in Highlands Ranch. Flags should be lowered from sunrise to sunset, the governor’s office said.

Parish, 29, was killed in a pre-dawn ambush that left six others wounded, including three other Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputies, a Castle Rock Police Department officer and two residents. The shooter was killed.

Parrish had been a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy for seven month and was a Castle Rock Police Department officer for more than two years before that. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Hickenlooper expressed his grief and sympathy with the Parrish family, as well as his hopes for a speedy recovery for those injured in the shooting and neighbors who were affected by it.

“The call to protect and serve too often leads to this ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “We are grateful for the service of Deputy Parrish, his fellow deputies, and that of the Castle Rock police officer.  We pray for their and their families’ strength and resolve in the days and months ahead.”

President Donald Trump shared his condolences in a tweet Sunday morning: ““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!” Trump said on Twitter.”

A procession of 60 law enforcement vehicles followed a hearse that bore Parrish’s body from Littleton Adventist Hospital Sunday morning as firefighters and residents lined the road to pay respects.

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said the other law enforcement officers injured in the shooting were Douglas County deputies Deputy Michael Doyle, 28, Deputy Jeff Pelle, 32, and Deputy Taylor Davis, 30 and Castle Rock police SWAT Officer Thomas O’Donnell, 41.

All were in stable condition on Sunday afternoon.

Pelle is the son of Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, who posted on his Facebook page that his son was going to recover physically.

Spurlock said the gunman fired more than 100 rounds in the shooting and likened the attacks on the officers to an ambush.

The Associated Press identified the gunman as Matthew Riehl, a veteran who posted online tirades against area law enforcement. A YouTube video posted earlier in December by a user identified as Matthew Riehl called for Spurlock to be fired and ranted against him in personal terms.

The governor’s office maintains a web page displaying the current flag status for the U.S. flag and the Colorado flag.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.