Douglas County

Deputy's funeral procession draws massive community turnout

The funeral procession for Douglas County Sheriff Deputy Zackari Parrish, shown at Lincoln Avenue and South Quebec Street in Highlands Ranch Jan. 5.
Ellis Arnold

Thousands of people lined the route of Deputy Zackari Parrish's funeral procession in Douglas County the morning of Jan. 5, as a motorcade with more than 1,000 law enforcement vehicles made its way from Castle Rock to Highlands Ranch.

The motorcade exited I-25 at Lincoln Avenue about 9 a.m., then headed west down Lincoln, to University Boulevard, then to Wildcat Reserve Parkway, winding its way to Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch. Services were held there for the slain deputy at 11 a.m. Law enforcement personnel from throughout Colorado and surrounding states were part of the motorcade.

Parrish, 29, was shot to death in a Highlands Ranch apartment the morning of Dec. 31 in what Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock called an "ambush-type of attack." He was a husband and a father of two small children.

In the New Year's Eve shooting, four other law enforcement officers were injured, as were two civilians.

The suspect, Matthew Riehl, 37, was killed by a regional SWAT team after a roughly two-hour standoff. No motive has been released for the attack, which resulted after officers responded to the Copper Canyon Apartments on the report of a noise disturbance.

Along the stretch of Lincoln Avenue between I-25 and Yosemite Street in Lone Tree on Jan. 5, veterans, law enforcement professionals and civilians lined the streets, holding both American flags and Blue Line flags, to show their respect for Parrish and for law enforcement officials everywhere. Supporters included people of all ages.

Alex Benjamin Sears, 5, came with his mother Rachel Sears, 33, to support the law enforcement community because Alex's father is a deputy. He waited anxiously for the hundreds of patrol cars from at least five different states to come down the street.

"My son's dad is a deputy, and we came here to show our support for all law enforcement officers," said Sears, who made the drive from Castle Rock where she lives. "It's sad, just sad."

The Woolverton family, including children Evan, Ava, and Kael watched the procession and proudly held a flag in support of law enforcement family — their father is a Douglas County deputy. The children said they wanted to be there for all families.

Student Emma Dreiling, 15, and her sisters held signs for officers reading "Thank you for your service," and "We are sorry for your loss." The family lives in Denver, and their mother is a retired Denver police officer. The girls know all too well how lucky they are to have both parents come home at night.

Retirees Jesse and Sunny Cheek, from Lone Tree, braved the cold and carried hand-made signs that read "Bless you" on one side, and "Thank you" on the other. They held the first sign up for Parrish's family, the second for law enforcement.

"It was the least we could do," Jesse said.

— Tabatha Deans Stewart contributed to this report.


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