Douglas County ambush shooter had 15 guns, sheriff says

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- The man who killed a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy on New Year’s Eve and wounded four others had 15 guns inside his apartment and all were acquired legally, according to the sheriff.

Of those 15 guns, 11 were in working condition, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said.

Matthew Riehl fired four of them -- an M-16, an M-4, a shotgun and a handgun. The guns are still being examined, but from visual evidence, none appeared to be fully automatic, Spurlock said.

Deputy Zackari Parrish was killed in the New Year's Eve ambush. Three other deputies, a Castle Rock Police Department SWAT officer and two civilians were injured in the shooting.

Some of the guns and bullets they fired were strong enough to pierce the protective vests the deputies wore.

The department has heavier and stronger vests available, but Spurlock said they’re not functional on day-to-day calls.

Spurlock also defended how the deputies approached Riehl the morning of the shooting. They knew Riehl had guns, had been drinking and had a history with law enforcement.

“I think they … they handled it just like we handled the other 500 calls of mental health issues,” Spurlock said. "Those are always risky calls.

"It’s in the middle of the night. I think they took the caution that they thought was appropriate at that time. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. But I think knowing everything we know, Zack Parrish would have still said, ‘We’ve got to go help that guy.’”