sheriff can you hear me? >> tonight, inside an attack. >> breathe, breathe. stay with me, pauley, stay with me. >> deputies called to a domestic dispute -- >> sheriff's office! >> met with an ar-15 ambush. all caught on officer body cam. >> cover me! >> i look to my left, i see zach's down. my first thought is, my friend's down, i need to go get him. >> the split-second decision. >> i'm hit! >> the bravery. >> we have one deputy down inside the apartment. all of us have been hit at least once. >> i geared up and going to try to make another attempt to get zach out. >> i need fire up here now! >> and the sacrifice.
body cam footage is used to scrutinize police behavior. what you're about to see is a heart-pounding, first hand testament to the dangers of wearing a badge and the loyalty of these men and women to their fellow officers as they put their lives on the line to serve and protect. here's abc's clayton sandell with another look at the ambush at copper canyon. >> reporter: it's early morning on new year's eve 2017. five officers from the douglas county sheriff's department. >> sheriff's office! >> reporter: responding to a 911 call. >> sheriff's office! >> reporter: from the copper canyon apartments in highlands ranch, colorado. waiting for them, 37-year-old army veteran matthew riehl. he has a history of mental health issues. >> matt, come out! matt, come out of the room now! >> reporter: and unknown to them, a loaded ar-15 rifle.
>> open the door! sheriff's office! [ gunfire ] >> shots fired, shots fired! >> my name's taylor davis. i just decided i wanted to do more for our community. >> my name's michael doyle. i know i can't change the world, but i can at least change my corner of it. >> jeff pelle. just something i wanted to do since i was little. haven't thought about doing anything else. >> dave buyer. i first got into law enforcement through the military police. i was 19 years old, thought it sounded like a good idea.
>> reporter: their graveyard shift had started at 9:00 p.m. on december 30th. it was a quiet night. >> i remember kind of looking forward to that night. get in there, get it done. >> i personally had plans for a new year's eve party, let's just have a good shift, let's be safe. it was a pretty slow night up until about 3:00 a.m. >> what's going on there? >> this guy, he totally freaked out on me. he kept coming at me. i feared for my health and my safety, like he was at me. >> what was your name? >> matthematthew. >> there was a hazard hit on the home, matthew riehl was a veteran with ptsd, possible access to weapons. >> your radar's up at this point? >> yeah, pretty much. >> hello. >> hey, how are you? >> good. >> what's going on tonight?
>> well, my roommate freaked out on me, came at me. >> okay. >> i put latser in his face -- >> when i got on scene, zach and the corporate on scene were talking to matthew riehl, fairly calm at that point. >> why don't you come out with us. mindfy come in and talk to you? >> is he on anything, any mental disabilities? >> not that i know of. >> did you get in a physical altercation tonight? >> no. >> okay. >> i'm going to get your name and get out of here, okay? >> let's go, let's go, let's go! >> we're here because we want to make sure you're okay. >> yeah, yeah, i know. >> are you okay? >> yeah, no, i'm fine. >> what's your first name? >> matthew. >> zach, good to meet you. >> zach immediately developed a decent rapport with him.
zach's approach to evidently was very level headed, very calm. >> how did it end for you guys? >> we knew the roommate was going to work, matthew was going back to his room, we were going to move on to the next call and chief of staff just it. >> happy new year! >> and yet, two hours later, roughly, what happens? >> we get another call. back there. from what i understood from dispatch, matthew riehl was extremely agitated on the phone. >> caller's not being cooperative. >> he was irate, he was amped. he was nonsensical. >> when zach and i arrived on scene, zach knocks on the door. a conversation ensues from inside the apartment with matthew riehl. >> hey, matt, it's zach. >> he eventually opens the door. before he does that he says -- >> he said, i don't have any guns, i'm coming out. >> we can talk out here. >> and zach was like, okay, open up the door, man, we just want to talk to you. >> are you okay? >> the way zach was talking to
him, he wasn't talking as an authority figure at that point, he was talking as somebody who wanted to truly help him out. >> eventually we get to the point he's like, i want a domestic restraining order. zach's like, we can help you out with that. then -- i don't know, something switched. he just slammed the door in our face. >> well, i don't think there's anyone else in there? >> no. we're going to take him. >> for what? >> m1. >> m1 is mental health hold. law enforcement is authorized to place somebody on a 72-hour mental health hold involuntarily if they exhibit behaviors where they may be a danger to themselves or others. when the officers got on scene he was throwing things off his balcony, yelling and screaming, we were concerned for his safety. zach described his behavior as the most manic episode of ptsd he'd seen. >> reporter: the team decides to
remove him from the apartment did for his own safety. >> coming up with the plan, does anyone have a shield? i said, i have my shield. we set up ow to approach the apartment, me in front with the shield, zach behind me with his gun out, doyle behind zach with taser out for less lethal, sergeant pelle behind him hands free. >> and we go and try to put him into custody. >> the officers enter the apartment to find that matthew has barricaded himself in his bedroom. they don't know he's holding a loaded rifle. >> he had not only barricaded the door but the entry to the hallway with large objects that were designed to hang inside. >> zach whispered, let's kick the door, he's not coming out. >> sheriff's office! [ gunfire ]
>> this was never like anything i ever imagined. >> probably a 30-round magazine he dumped on us within a couple of seconds. >> i hear zach say, i'm shot, i'm bleeding out. >> i'm going, cover me, cover me! >> so i look to my left. i see zach's down. my first thought is, my friend's down, i need to go get him. so i started crawling. i grab his right boot. i just pulled as hard as i could. i moved him two, three feet. that's when the next volley of rounds started coming out. >> it was very apparent by this time that it was clearly an ambush. >> that's when i got shot. >> i'm hit, i'm hit! >> the bullet entered just over my vest. just under my armpit. >> i saw blood coming out my sleeves. okay, i got shot. then after that my attention is on jeff at that point. >> stay with me, stay with me,
pelle! >> sarge started administering aid to me while i was administering aid to jeff. >> at that point, that's when i could tell, i'm not good. my lungs collapsed, i was during being blood. >> stay with us, you're all right. >> we came under another barrage of gunfire. >> [ bleep ], shooting out the window. >> get him out of here! >> over here. >> you start thinking about taylor. you're looking around, she's not there. the last i saw, she went further into the apartment. >> where's davis? >> she's inside. with him. >> [ bleep ]. >> i knew she was in the apartment by herself, outgunned, in a strange territory. >> reporter: when the shooting began, deputy davis was forced deeper inside the second-story apartment. >> i ran into the roommate's room looking for some kind of concealment, preparing myself to get into a gun battle at this point. once i was inside that bedroom, i saw a window.
so i broke the window and then proceeded to jump out of it. >> i'm hit! i'm hit! >> what was it like for you guys to see her come around the corner? >> sarge shined his flashlight on taylor. i could see the badge. i'm like, oh, thank you. >> where's parrish? >> still in there. >> one deputy down inside the apartment. i'm not getting anything from him. all of us have been hit at least once. >> shots fired. three officers hit, one's down. we have medical and s.w.a.t. on the way. >> parrish! >> reporter: when we come back -- >> the moment when you realize zach is inside and he's trapped. you felt really helpless. >> reporter: ambushed,
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"nightline" "ambush at copper canyon" continues. clayton sandell reporting. >> i need s.w.a.t. right now, i need medical! >> shots fired! >> just to confirm, we have three officers hit, is that correct? >> reporter: sergeant dave buyer and his team of douglas county sheriff's deputies are under attack outside the apartment of 37-year-old matthew riehl.
all three of the deputies with him have been shot. >> i'm bleeding. one in the chest, one in the chest. >> stay with me, pelle, stay with me. >> my patrol tahoe was the closest. i ran to it, got it. >> get him over here! right in front of us. >> ready, one, two, three! we got you. back seat of my truck. ready? one in the chest, one shot in the arm -- >> reporter: deputies davis, pelle, and doyle are taken to the hospital. >> i got to go. >> reporter: meanwhile, sergeant buyer turns back to the aptmen mplex. >> i gear up, going to make another attempt tget zkter: his zack parrish, is still inside
the apartment. >> there was a chance he was still alive. every minute that went by his chances decreased. >> let's put together a rescue team -- >> sergeant and i stacked up on the door, took a peek around the corner, came under heavy fun gire again. >> parrish, can you hear me? [ gunfire ] >> a s.w.a.t. team made entry into the front door. in the process of doing so they engaged the suspect. he fired a number of rounds at our officers, hitting one of them. we fired and killed him. >> reporter: the s.w.a.t. team recovers deputy parrish, but it's too late. >> so i came out of surgery --
but i kept asking, you know, how's doyle? he's fine. how's taylor? she's fine. when i asked about zack -- then finally they told me. >> he was alone in that apartment. he died there alone. even though i know i would have been killed, at least he wouldn't have been alone if i would have stayed in there with him. that's what haunts me. not a day goes by that i don't replay what happened in my head. that i don't think about zack or gracie, his wife, and his two girls. >> i never thought that i would be at my husband's funeral with two sweet baby girls that would never truly get to know their father. the only way that i could think of was through writing a letter
to him of just basically my vows. >> i promise to raise our girls with the lord as my focus. i promise to raise them in a home that bleeds blue. >> zack was such an engaged father. he loved well, and he loved deeply. it's no secret he loved christmas lights. three or four times a week we're getting in the car and looking at christmas lights. i remember driving at one point and thinking, we've done this a lot. like, it's as if we've packed a lifetime of looking at christmas lights into this month. and it came full circle on the 31st when i was able to go, we did. we really did. >> 1721, you are clear. thank you for your service and rest easy, sir, we have the watch from here. >> reporter: it's been just over six months since the shooting and matthew riehl's history and possible motives are coming into
focus. >> he had a beef with law enforcement. >> we're learning more and more about matthew riehl, mostly from himself, due to his extensive presence online. >> you know who's going to flub big-time next election? spurlock. he's a clown. >> how many firearms did he have? >> he had 11 firearms. >> reporter: sheriff tony spurlock is now on a mission to try and prevent something like this from happening again. >> i'd like to see colorado have an extreme risk protection order law that will give law enforcement and family members a tool to help save their loved ones. this is not an attack on the second amendment. it's people with a mental health crisis not being taken care of,
and then having direct access to weapons. >> would it have saved zack, do you think? >> i have to say it would have. i know for a fact this guy would not have been able to buy the two rifles he used to shoot zack. >> reporter: for zack parrish's colleagues, the past months have been focused on regaining their lives as friends, family members, and in the memory of their fallen brother as officers. what do you want people to remember about zack? >> his good nature. he wanted to be that light that everybody looked to and had fun with and enjoy. >> zack is downright a hero, there's no other way about it. he's the poster child for who you want to hire as a police officer. >> he was all about helping people, which is particularly cruel irony to the fact that he was trying to help this person on that night.
>> uh-huh. zack was the type of man if you had told that team, someone is going to die tonight, zack would have said, i'm still going in there. i will put my life on the line, because he knew every single day, putting on that badge, he's putting his life on the line to help people. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm clayton sandell in highlands ranch, colorado. >> we'll be right back. touch shows how we really feel. but does psoriasis ever get in the way? embrace the chance of 100% clear skin with taltz. up to 90% of those with moderate to severe psoriasis had a significant improvement of their psoriasis plaques. most people were still clearer after one year. with taltz, 4 out of 10 even achieved completely clear skin. don't use if you're allergic to taltz. before starting, you should be checked for tuberculosis. taltz may increase risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them.
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