8 Suspects, 3 Cops Killed in 42 Days During 14 CO Officer-Involved Shootings

From the scene of a police shooting in Aurora on Saturday.
From the scene of a police shooting in Aurora on Saturday. Courtesy of Denver7
Counting the New Year's Eve gun battle that killed Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish, there have been fourteen officer-involved shootings along Colorado's Front Range over a span of 42 days. This total includes a traffic stop on Saturday, February 10, in Aurora during which an adult male was killed by a member or members of the Aurora Police Department — the fifth OIS in less than a week. During these incidents, eight suspects and three officers were killed and at least eleven injuries took place involving law enforcers and others.

The number of officer-involved shootings during a month-and-a-half period is unprecedented in recent memory. For context, note that there were twelve officer-involved shootings in Denver during all of 2016, during which six people were killed — and that body count was considered absolutely shocking in many quarters.

Below are accounts of all fourteen events as described in releases from the assorted law enforcement agencies involved.

Deputy Zackari Parrish was killed in the line of duty on New Year's Eve. - DOUGLAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Deputy Zackari Parrish was killed in the line of duty on New Year's Eve.
Douglas County Sheriff's Office
December 31, 2017
Source: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Douglas County Dispatch initially received the report of a "verbal disturbance" call at the location at approximately 3:00 a.m. involving two males. Both males were at the apartment, one male said the suspect was acting bizarre and might be having a mental breakdown. Deputies cleared the scene at 3:44 a.m., no crime had been committed at that time. Deputies were called back to the scene at 5:14 a.m. and the first officer arrived on scene at 5:17 a.m. Three additional officers also arrived on scene, the last one arriving at 5:35 a.m. One male had left the scene prior to officer’s arrival. The male returned to the scene and gave officers a key and permission to enter the apartment, but then left the scene prior to the shooting. At 5:56 a.m., four officers were hit by rifle rounds from the suspect’s bedroom. Three of the deputies were able to get to safety, however, the fourth officer, Deputy Zackari Parrish, was not able to retreat. Due to the amount of gunfire along with sustained injuries, the three injured deputies were not able to get to Parrish for an immediate rescue.

SWAT made entry into the apartment at approximately 7:30 a.m., shots were exchanged between the suspect [Matthew Riehl] and SWAT, resulting in the suspect’s death. Officer Tom O’Donnell was also shot and injured by the suspect at this time. It is believed, at this time, that the suspect shot more than 100 rounds from a rifle.

January 11, 2018
Source: Thornton Police Department

On 01-11-2018, at about 1:34 pm, an officer advised that they had a Lo-Jack activation on a stolen vehicle in the area of the 9900 Block of N. Grant Street. Officers located the stolen vehicle in the Thornton Town Center parking lot located at 10001 N. Grant Street. The suspect fled the parking lot and traveled south bound on Grant Street at a high rate of speed. The driver lost control of the vehicle, crashing into the median and a hedge row in the intersection of E. 98th Avenue and N. Grant Street. The suspect fled the vehicle, at which time the officer engaged in a foot pursuit. During the foot pursuit, there was an encounter with the suspect, and the officer discharged his weapon, striking the suspect in the torso. The suspect’s injuries are non-life threatening. The suspect was transported to a local hospital.

click to enlarge Erick Michael Deleon after being pursued by Arvada police. - FACEBOOK
Erick Michael Deleon after being pursued by Arvada police.
January 14, 2018
Source: Arvada Police Department

On January 14, Arvada Police contacted [suspect Erick Michael] Deleon in a parking lot in the 5000 block of Kipling after receiving a suspicious person report. Police cleared him using identification he provided and learned he had a felony domestic violence/stalking warrant from Denver, and was considered "armed and dangerous."

Before police could arrest Deleon, he fled in his car. He crashed the vehicle on the south side of the Target parking lot, then fled on foot. Deleon was located walking southbound west of Kipling near the I-70 frontage road. He was carrying a handgun when confronted by police.

Deleon raised the weapon in the direction of Arvada Officers. An Officer fired their weapon striking the suspect. Deleon then turned his weapon on himself and shot himself in the head. Medical personal tended to Deleon, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Jefferson County Coroner concluded that Deleon, age 25, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

January 16, 2018
Source: Adams County Sheriff's Office

At 9:13 p.m. on January 16th, 2018, Adams County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Pinetree Village Apartments at 7520 Broadway on a call of a disturbance. A deputy arrived on scene and encountered the suspect.

The Deputy encountered a male party in the hallway who became aggressive. After multiple attempts to talk to the party, a fight ensued. The deputy discharged his taser and eventually his service weapon. The suspect was transported to local hospital, where he died from his injuries. The Deputy was later transported to the hospital due to a head injury.

January 21, 2018
Source: Adams County Sheriff's Office

AT 12:34 a.m., Adams County Sheriff's Deputies responded to the 5200 block of Riverdale Way on a call of a car prowler. Deputies found a stolen vehicle with two occupants. Suspects started to ram their stolen vehicle into our marked patrol unit multiple times.

The deputy was struck by the vehicle after exiting his vehicle. Deputies fired their service weapons. Suspects fled in the stolen vehicle and we pursued the vehicle. The suspect wrecked the vehicle near the Thornton Police Department. The suspect attempted to flee on foot and was apprehended. The second suspect was taken into custody after a short foot pursuit. The suspect was transported to a local hospital with a gunshot wound. The deputy was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

January 22, 2018
Source: Pueblo Police Department

On January 22, 2018 at approximately 6:02 p.m. Pueblo Police received a call from a female stating she and her children were barricaded inside her home as her ex [Joe F. Delira-Alires] was outside of her residence in the 2600 blk. of E. 9th armed with a gun firing shots into the air.

As officers arrived on scene they indicated multiple rapid-fire shots being fired. The adult male suspect was able to get into his SUV and flee the scene. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle, but he disregarded with a pursuit ensuing. Stop Sticks were deployed near E. 4th and Hudson in an attempt to stop the suspect vehicle that was continuing to elude and drive recklessly at a high rate of speed. As the pursuit approached the area of W. 13th and Craig St., an officer was able to successfully utilize a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver on the suspect SUV to safely disable the vehicle.

The suspect then ran from the SUV on foot armed with a handgun. As the suspect fled, he fired multiple rounds at officers. After chasing the suspect for nearly one block several officers engaged the suspect with lethal force. The suspect was provided emergency medical assistance in an attempt to save his life until fire/rescue arrived on scene and determined he was deceased.

No officers were shot during this dangerous incident.

click to enlarge Deputy Heath Gumm, as seen in a family photo. - ADAMS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Deputy Heath Gumm, as seen in a family photo.
Adams County Sheriff's Office
January 24, 2018
Source: Adams County Sheriff's Office

At 1858 hours on January 24, deputies responded to an assault in progress in the area of the 8700 block of Dawson Street.

Once on scene, deputies found that the suspect had fled. Deputies started to search the area for suspect and/or suspects.

Deputies contacted a male [Dreion Dearing] in that area that matched one of the suspect's descriptions. The suspect ran from deputies, leading them behind a house in that area. When deputies caught up to the male, the male pulled a handgun and started to shoot at our deputies, striking one of the deputies in the chest. Suspect took off on foot, later being located and taken into custody.

It is with incredible sadness that we report that our deputy [Heath Gumm] was transported and pronounced dead at the hospital.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts