The lone suspect was killed at the end of a two-hour standoff at an apartment complex in Highlands Ranch, 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of Denver, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock told reporters in a televised briefing.
Spurlock said he believed the suspect, whose identity had not yet been confirmed, was someone who had had “law enforcement contact on a number of occasions … but no criminal history.”
He said the man used a rifle and fired at least 100 rounds, catching deputies off guard.
The dead deputy was identified as Zachary Parrish, 29, a married father of two young children. He had been on the force only seven months.
– ‘Her life is over’ –
Spurlock, who had never lost a deputy before, described the agony of holding the wife’s hand and “seeing in her eyes her life is over.”
All four wounded deputies were in stable condition, Spurlock said. He said all had been wearing protective vests.
Two civilians were also wounded. Spurlock was unclear on their identities.
Deputies had responded to an early-morning call of a disturbance and, arriving at the scene, initially conducted talks with the suspect, barricaded in a bedroom, when he suddenly opened fire on the officers.
“All of them were shot very, very quickly,” Spurlock said, “within seconds of each other.” The wounded deputies tried to pull Parrish out of the line of fire but, hampered by their own wounds, were able only to crawl to safety.
Police dispatched a heavily armed SWAT team. Officers from a total of five jurisdictions, including Colorado state police, responded.
As the incident unfurled, the sheriff’s office advised local residents to take cover in place and stay away from windows.
The toll among deputies appeared to be one of the highest in a police-involved shooting since five officers in Dallas, Texas were shot to death and several others injured in July 2016 by a man angered by police shootings of black men.
The area near Sunday’s shooting has been scarred by dramatic mass shootings in recent years, including the Columbine school shooting in 1999, which left 15 people dead, and the 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora that claimed 12 lives. Both are within a half-hour’s drive of Highlands Ranch.
Spurlock said the Aurora police chief met him at the hospital where his men had been taken to offer his support.