Colorado Gunman Identified as Iraq Veteran with Grudge Against Local Sheriff

Zackari Parrish, left, leaves a wife and two daughters after gunman Matthew Riehl, right, opened fire in Colorado.
Zackari Parrish, 29, leaves a wife a wife and two daughters after gunman Matthew Riehl, right, opened fire in an 'ambush attack,' authorities said. GoFundMe/Douglas County Sheriff's Dept.

A gunman holed up in a Colorado apartment who killed a deputy and wounded four others has been identified as an Iraq War veteran with a grudge against the local sheriff, authorities said.

Matthew Riehl, 37, fired more than 100 rounds in an "ambush-style" attack that killed Zackari Parrish, 29, and wounded fellow deputies Michael Doyle, 28, Jeff Pelle, 32, and Taylor Davis, 30. Castle Rock Police Department SWAT member Thomas O'Donnell, 31, was also injured. The survivors remained hospitalized Monday in stable condition.

Sunday's barrage of gunfire began with a domestic disturbance call. Parrish and three colleagues entered a Highlands Ranch residence and began talking with its two occupants, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Department. Riehl barricaded himself in a bedroom and opened fire with a rifle.

Parrish was killed and the other deputies were wounded, the department said in a statement. Other law enforcement officers, including the Castle Rock SWAT team, stormed the apartment, dragged out Parrish's body, and killed Riehl, according to authorities.

At a Sunday evening press conference, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock called Parrish a "smiley kid" eager to do his job, which he had held for only seven months. He is survived by his wife and two young daughters. 

Spurlock tried to comfort the new widow, he said. "When I sat with his wife and held her hand, I could see in her eyes that her life was over," an emotional Spurlock said. 

Two civilians from a neighboring apartment also suffered non-life-threatening injuries, the sheriff said.

"They all went down almost within seconds of each other, so it was more of an ambush-type of attack on our officers," Spurlock said, according to CBS News. "He knew we were coming and we obviously let him know that we were there."

A YouTube user identified as Matthew Riehl posted a video Dec. 13, demanding the firing of sheriff Spurlock and listing several personal insults against him. Another deputy was called a "pimp."

Riehl said he would run as a libertarian against Spurlock in 2018 as part of a plan to "fire all these bums come early next year." 

A Nov. 28 video showed a traffic stop by an officer in Lone Tree, which Riehl said was done illegally. "Scumbag, dirtbag, liar," he says as the officer questions the driver. "He's the boss, huh? He's the Nazi in charge with the stripes on his shoulder and the fake badge."

The video appeared to have been taken from inside the stopped vehicle, according to The Associated Press.

Riehl served as an Army reservist in Iraq for one year and once practiced law in Wyoming. University of Wyoming law students were warned in November to immediately notify officials if Riehl was seen on campus. "The UW Law School has received information about suspicious behavior involving a former student," read an email from the college's assistant dean. "There have been no direct threats to faculty, staff, or students, but as a precaution, students are being notified of this situation," KTWO radio reported.

President Donald Trump expressed sorrow, writing on Twitter, "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!"

A GoFundMe account set up for Parrish's family raised $195,550 in one day. 

"Zack fed off adrenaline. From snowboarding in the back country, to his job as a Douglas County police officer. Zack didn't back down to any challenges or fear," reads the tribute to Parrish on the donation page.

"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."

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