DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colorado -- Early on New Year's Eve morning, Deputy Zackari Parrish was at work.
Seven months prior, Parrish had begun working as a sheriff's deputy for the Douglas County Sheriff's Department.
The 29-year-old had always wanted to serve others, having recently graduated from the Arapahoe Community College Police Academy.
He responded to a call at the Copper Canyon apartment complex in Highlands Ranch around 5 a.m. Sunday.
Inside an apartment, police describe what happened next as an "ambush attack."
Police say Matthew Riehl, a veteran of the Iraq war, was inside his apartment when he opened fire on the deputies, fatally shooting Parrish, wounding four other law enforcement officers, and shooting two other residents in the complex with a rifle.
In all, police say Riehl fired more than 100 rounds. He was shot and killed by law enforcement.
As news of the tragedy broke, a clearer picture of the man, father, and husband Parrish was emerged.
Family photos of Zack Parrish. Photos courtesy Dionna McCarthy Photography. (Photo: Dionna McCarthy Photography)
Parrish was involved in his church community, Mission Hills. He had two young girls. He left a career in banking to live out his childhood dream of becoming a police officer.
Family photos show how much he adored his family.
Family photos of Zack Parrish. Courtesy Dionna McCarthy Photography. (Photo: Dionna McCarthy Photography.)
Friends on social media have also been sharing more about the man they knew and loved, including Mike Pritchard, who has known Parrish for several years.
"The things I’ll remember most about Zack were his strong faith, love of his family, his pure optimism and great sense of humor. He was just someone that you wanted to spend time with," he wrote on Facebook.
Pritchard told 9NEWS we should share his tribute. In full, it reads:
Rest In Peace, Deputy Zack S Parrish III. Zack was a friend. I gave him career advice when he was transitioning from banking to law enforcement. He was a great man, husband and father. Please consider supporting his wife, Gracie, and 2 daughters: http://www.dcsheriff.net/fallen-officer-fund/
I met Zack 3 or 4 years ago via the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. He was in sales at KeyBank then. I was CFO at Goodwill. I spoke at a Chamber event about Goodwill and Zack came up afterwards asking if we could meet sometime. I said yes. I thought he wanted to meet to sell me banking products. But it turned out he wanted career advice. I think I must have shared some of my “follow your heart” career journey during my talk, so he wanted to connect.
When we met Zack shared with me how he really felt the calling to serve as a police officer since childhood. He was hustling, attending police academy and getting interviews with various departments, but not getting a job. Yet. He kept after it. We had lunch subsequently - at Rositas on North Federal - and Zack shared how he got a part time gig as a police officer for the town of Morrison, which he was super excited about. But he still wanted a full time gig. Castle Rock was the department he really wanted to work for. He eventually had his dream come true.
The things I’ll remember most about Zack were his strong faith, love of his family, his pure optimism and great sense of humor. He was just someone that you wanted to spend time with.
Rest In Eternal Peace, Deputy Parrish. See you on the other side.
There will be a candlelight vigil at Mission Hills Church in Littleton for Parrish on Jan. 1 at 5 p.m.
To donate to the family, go to the Douglas County Sheriff's Fallen Officer Fund.
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