Three people are confirmed dead, including an El Paso County sheriff's deputy, after a shooting Sunday in Security-Widefield, Colorado Springs police announced Monday.
Andrew Peery, a SWAT officer with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, was killed after responding to a shooting. Peery is survived by his wife and two children.
On Sunday just after 5 p.m., a 911 call was transferred from Fort Carson to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office Communications Center. The caller reported a shooting in the 500 block of Ponderosa Drive.
Update on the Officer-Involved Shooting in the 500 Block of Ponderosa Drive— Colorado Springs Police Department (@CSPDPIO) August 8, 2022
On August 7, 2022, at approximately 5:07 PM, a 911 call was transferred from Fort Carson to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office (EPSO) Communications Center.
Two deputies from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and one Fountain police officer responded and were fired upon as they arrived. The alleged shooter, identified as 33-year-old John Paz, struck Deputy Peery, seriously wounding him.
"One of the EPSO deputies, 39-year-old Andrew Peery, was struck and gravely injured," police said in a news release Monday. "Deputies were able to return fire and, once additional personnel arrived, they immediately began lifesaving measures on Deputy Peery."
Despite these efforts, police say Peery died of his injuries.
While at the scene, deputies and officers located a deceased adult female in the front yard of a residence in the 500 block of Ponderosa Drive. After obtaining and executing a search warrant, CSPD's Tactical Enforcement Unit found Paz dead inside as the result of a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound, Colorado Springs police said.
The Air Force Academy confirmed Monday that Paz was currently employed at the 94th Flying Training Squadron at the academy's airfield.
Dean Miller, academy spokesman, said the suspect had worked as a squadron aviation resource management technician since Dec. 5.
The El Paso County Coroner's Office will determine the official cause of death for all three people. Peery and the adult female's deaths are being investigated as homicides committed by Paz.
"The EPSO deputy identified as having fired their weapon has been placed on administrative leave per their department policies," police said. "No Fountain Police Department or CSPD officers fired a weapon during this incident."
"He was a kind soul," Scott Stone, a friend of Peery's, told Gazette news partner KKTV. "He was a man’s man, he made sure that we were — that the guys on his team were always taken care of. He would have given the shirt off his back to his fellow officers."
Stone, a former El Paso County deputy who was injured in the line of duty during a 2018 shooting that claimed the life of Deputy Micah Flick, spoke of what this loss meant to their law enforcement family.
"It’s one of the worst feelings in the pit of your stomach," he said to KKTV. "It’s a gut-wrenching thing. You feel for his family, you feel for his kids. It’s going to be a long healing process."
Fellow officers lined the streets Sunday night to show their respects during a procession from the hospital.
"My thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of Deputy Peery and all our neighbors in law enforcement who put their lives at risk to serve others," said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in a statement released after the news broke.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez released a statement.
"Finding the right words to describe the tragedy that took place yesterday is impossible," he said. "To families grieving the loss of a loved one this morning, please accept my heartfelt condolences on behalf of the Colorado Springs Police Department."
Vasquez said many of the people involved in this case, from the residents who called for help to the first responders on the scene, were left "incredibly shaken."
Representative Doug Lamborn also joined in, saying "we will always stand with the #ThinBlueLine" on Twitter.
"With a heavy heart, I join all of (Colorado) in mourning (El Paso County Sheriff's deputy) Andrew Peery's tragic death," Lamborn said on Twitter. "The six-year veteran made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty."
Lamborn asked people to join in prayer for Peery's family, law enforcement officers and their families.
Services for Peery have not been announced.
The Colorado Springs Police Department will be the lead investigative agency. Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to call CSPD at 719-444-7000. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 719-634-7867 or 800-222-8477.