Family of deputy wounded in Highlands Ranch shooting speaks out

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LITTLETON, Colo. -- One Douglas County sheriff's deputy remains hospitalized after Sunday morning's ambush at a Highlands Ranch apartment complex.

"It’s the call no parent wants to get,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said.

Pelle heard the words he always feared on Sunday morning. His son, who chose to follow a career in his footsteps, had been shot in the line of duty.

“The surgeon was just in and said the bullet missed his heart by half an inch,” Pelle said.

Deputy Jeff Pelle was one of the first to respond to the disturbance call at the Copper Creek Apartment complex in Highlands Ranch.

Detectives say the suspect shot more than 100 rounds from a rifle at four deputies, injuring three of them and killing one.

Pelle said his son was trying to pull his friend and fellow deputy, Zackari Parrish out of the line of fire when he was hit.

“He was wearing a bulletproof vest, but he was bent over trying to pull his friend out so that area wasn’t protected by the panels in his vest,” Pelle said.

Jeff Pelle was shot under an arm. The bullet collapsed his lung, and punctured his liver and diaphragm.

“We are so grateful that he’s going to be OK and so heartbroken for the family,” Pelle said.

Pelle said this situation illustrates the dangers of their job.

On Monday, over his police scanner, Pelle heard multiple dispatch calls where officers must deal with the unpredictable.

“There were three or four disturbance calls with mentally disturbed folks just in the matter of the hour it took to drive down here," he said. "So, it’s a routine thing. It’s something they do every day in and day out. You never know.”

While his son will physically make a full recovery, Pelle said the emotional trauma will leave lasting scars.

“He lost a friend, been through a very horrific event," Pelle said. "It’s such a band of brothers. It’s such a strong fraternity. The outpouring of love and prayers and hope has been wonderful.”

Jeff Pelle served as a deputy in Pueblo County for five years and has been with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for two years. He has been upgraded from stable to fair condition.

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