Deputy becomes 3rd Colo. LEO shot to death since New Year's Eve
“The feeling of the sheriffs is the same as the public. It’s absolutely unbelievable," Sheriff Justin Smith said
By Noelle Phillips
The Denver Post
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — For the third time since Dec. 31, a Colorado sheriff’s deputy has been killed in a shooting while taking a suspect into custody.
Each time, the shootings have rattled the communities the deputies served and broken the hearts of parents, wives, siblings, children and fellow law enforcement officers.
“The feeling of the sheriffs is the same as the public,” Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said Monday night. “It’s absolutely unbelievable.”
On Monday afternoon, El Paso County sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick, 34, became the third to die in 37 days. Two other El Paso County sheriff’s deputies, a Colorado Springs Police Department officer and a civilian were wounded in the shootout. The suspect was killed.
Flick, who was a detective, had celebrated his 11th anniversary with the sheriff’s department on Monday, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said. Flick is survived by his wife and 7-year-old twins.
“Deputy Flick was an outstanding member of my agency, and he will be missed,” Elder said.
Flick was part of a team of law enforcement officers from the sheriff’s office, Colorado Springs police and Colorado State Patrol that confronted a suspected car thief on the 4200 block of Galley Road, police Chief Pete Carey said.
There was a struggle, and the suspect, an adult male, fired at the officers, Carey said.
The police officer wounded in the shooting was in surgery Monday night and in stable condition, Carey said. He did not provide the conditions of the sheriff’s deputies and the civilian who were wounded.
“This indeed is a difficult day for our agencies,” Carey said.
Along with the three deputy deaths since Dec. 31, a total of seven officers now have been wounded in the incidents. Three civilians have been hurt after being caught amid the gunfire. Two suspects are dead, and a third is in custody and facing murder charges.
Three women are widows, and four children no longer have fathers.
In a statement, Gov. John Hickenlooper called the shooting a “senseless act of violence.”
“With the recent loss of now three deputies and many others injured, there’s no denying the grave impact this sequence of shootings is having on our state,” the governor’s statement said. “We will once more come together to provide sympathy and strength for the deputy’s loved ones and pray for the recovery of those injured; however, we must also come together and say enough is enough. We want each officer, every deputy, to know we are grateful for their service.”
Hickenlooper ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at public buildings across the state beginning Tuesday and lasting until sunset on the day of Flick’s funeral.
Their hearts are broken but their spirits are not. Dozens came to show their support for fallen Deputy Micah Flick at the starting point of his procession. Incredibly powerful moments shared by the community in Colorado Springs tonight. @KOAA pic.twitter.com/lhvPBhk1QC— Lena Howland (@LenaHowland) February 6, 2018
Condolences through social media poured out from Colorado’s law enforcement community, politicians and police supporters across the country, including from Colorado’s senators, Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner, who offered condolences to Flick’s family and well- wishes to those who were injured.
“Speechless. Absolutely speechless,” Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz said on his Twitter account.
“Again we put our shrouds over our badges in honor of murdered EPSO Deputy Flick. Is this going to be a permanent part of our uniform or can we expect better times?” the Colorado State Patrol’s troop based in Sterling said in a tweet.
“Enough,” tweeted Douglas County sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Pelle, who was seriously wounded in the Dec. 31 shooting that killed his colleague, Deputy Zackari Parrish.
Parrish was killed while trying to take a man into custody on a mental health hold. Three other Douglas County deputies, a Castle Rock Police Department officer and two residents in neighboring apartments were wounded in the shootout that ended when the suspect was killed by a SWAT unit.
Adams County Deputy Heath Gumm died Jan. 24 while chasing a suspect wanted in connection with a fight at an apartment complex. The suspect has been charged with three counts of murder and one count of burglary.
At Gumm’s funeral, his widow, Natasha Boettcher, called for an end to the violence in a letter that was read during the service.
“Can we please end these awful, pointless tragedies?” she wrote.
Smith, who just finished a one-year term as president of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, said in 31 years in law enforcement he has never attended so many officer funerals so close together.
“I’ve never been to back-to-back funerals like that,” Smith said. “The initial thought was it’s unbelievable to have two in a 30-day period. To hear there’s been a third is sickening.”
Smith believes that, as part of the backlash of the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., more individuals have been willing to become combative toward law enforcement. Still, officers have tried to strike a balance between protecting themselves while being approachable to everyday citizens who need help, he said.
“We’re careful. We’re cautious,” Smith said. “When deputies, troopers and officers are out in the field, we can’t fall into an us-versus-them in the community.”
The shootings send chills through law enforcement families, especially those who have a spouse or partner that leaves home every day to work the streets of their cities and counties, Smith said.
“It’s a constant worry,” he said.
The one positive outcome has been the tremendous show of support from the public, who have thanked police officers and deputies by donating to memorial funds, buying meals or simply shaking hands, Smith said.
“In a very bizarre way, these tragedies bring out the best in our communities,” he said.
©2018 The Denver Post