A gunman opened fire on sheriff’s deputies responding to a call in Colorado, killing one and wounding four others before officers killed the assailant.
A volley of gunfire met deputies who entered an apartment after responding to an early morning disturbance call, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock told reporters, with the assailant firing “well over 100 rounds” before dying in the gunfight. Two civilians were also injured.
Mr Spurlock said authorities had visited the same apartment complex in the middle of the night to address a noise complaint, but departed after hearing nothing and discerning no issue.
When deputies returned, they conversed with the assailant before coming under fire in an “ambush-type” attack.
“All of them were shot very, very quickly,” Mr Spurlock said. “They all went down almost within seconds of each other … he knew we were coming”.
Authorities identified the shooter as 37-year-old Matthew Riehl. Mr Spurlock said officials were “familiar with him” from his having “had law enforcement on a number of occasions” but that Riehl did not have a criminal history.
The assailant’s roommate was cooperating with authorities.
“This is going to be a several-day investigation,” Mr Spurlock said, adding that authorities has “locked down” the apartment complex where the incident unfolded.
The slain deputy was identified as Zackari Parrish, a 29-year-old who had joined the department roughly seven months ago and left behind a wife and two children. He was struck “multiple times” during the engagement, Mr Spurlock said.
“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,” Mr Spurlock said. “They had many hopes and dreams and he was doing his job and doing his job well.”
All four of the deputies wounded in the confrontation were in stable condition, Mr Spurlock said, and two civilians were recovering from “non-life-threatening” injuries.
“It’s just regular people trying to live their life, disrupted by this individual,” he said.
Donald Trump offered his condolences on Twitter to victims of the “terrible shooting”.
“We love our police and law enforcement – God Bless them all”! the President wrote.
My deepest condolences to the victims of the terrible shooting in Douglas County , and their families. We love our police and law enforcement – God Bless them all!
— Donald J. Trump ()
A procession to honour the deceased officer was swiftly planned for the same morning, with the sheriff’s department warning of heavy traffic.
DCSO Motorcade for our fallen Deputy
— DC Sheriff ()
Deputies were responding to a call of a domestic disturbance around 5.15 am local time at the Copper Canyon Apartments on County Line Road in Highlands Ranch — about 20 miles south of Denver — the Sheriff’s Office said.
A number of local police forces were on alert over the incident, while a SWAT team was said to be responding. A major road south of Denver was also shut down in the wake of the incident.
A “code red” warning was issued for the surrounding area, with authorities calling for local residents to shelter where they are, as well as avoid windows and stay clear of exterior walls.
A Code Red was sent out regarding this incident. Any citizens in the affected area are instructed to shelter in place, avoid windows and stay away from exterior walls.
— DC Sheriff ()
An emergency shelter was set up in the local area, with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office announcing that anyone displaced from their homes over the incident should head there.
Due to the size and cope of this investigation an emergency shelter has been set up @ East Ridge Rec Center, located at 9568 University Blvd. in Highlands Ranch. If anyone has been displaced from their homes due to this event please feel free to head there.
— DC Sheriff ()
The FBI’s Denver office said it was monitoring the situation and offered a message of support.
. has been monitoring the events that occurred this morning and have offered our full support to . Our thoughts and prayers are with our law enforcement partners and all those impacted by today’s senseless act of violence.
— FBI Denver ()
Additional reporting by agencies