Another name was added to Colorado’s list of fallen law officers this past weekend. It served as a grim reminder — yet another — of the perils faced routinely by members of law enforcement. They risk all on a daily basis so that the rest of us don’t have to.
Andrew Peery, a SWAT officer with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, responded to a reported shooting Sunday evening in the Security/Widefield area just south of Colorado Springs. He wound up giving his life in the line of duty.
Peery, another El Paso County sheriff’s deputy and a police officer from nearby Fountain were fired on as they arrived. The alleged shooter, 33-year-old John Paz, seriously wounded Peery. A police news release Monday said the 39-year-old Peery was “struck and gravely injured.”
"Deputies were able to return fire and, once additional personnel arrived, they immediately began lifesaving measures on Deputy Peery,” the press statement said. Peery later died from his wounds.
Law officers subsequently found the body of a woman who also had been killed in the front yard at the residence where the shooting occurred. Authorities also found what they identified as Paz’s body inside. Pending further investigation, authorities believe Paz had shot himself to death after shooting the woman and Peery.
It was just this past May that members of law enforcement and others gathered at the Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial in Golden to recognize 17 more fallen law officers. Nine had been killed in the line of duty in 2021 alone. They included Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, who was killed last year in March as he intervened in a mass shooting at a Boulder grocery store, and Arvada Police Officer Gordan Beesley, who was killed in while responding to a shooter in the city’s Olde Town in June 2021. Now, Peery’s name will join theirs.
Like Beesley and Talley — both of whom were extolled as heroes who left behind grief-stricken family and friends — Peery was revered and beloved.
“He was a kind soul,” Scott Stone, a friend of Peery, told The Gazette’s Colorado Springs news partner KKTV. “He was a man’s man, he made sure … 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 is himself a former El Paso County deputy who was injured during a 2018 shooting that claimed the life of Deputy Micah Flick.
“It’s one of the worst feelings in the pit of your stomach,” he said. “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.”
The outpouring of support and sympathy for Peery has been deeply touching and inspiring. Fellow officers lined the streets Sunday night to show their respects during a procession from the hospital.
Our heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to Peery’s loved ones. The public can help — and show respect for our state’s latest casualty in the crime fight — by sending donations to the family of fallen Deputy Andrew Peery through Chase Bank under the "Hugh Martin Fallen Officers Fund.” Please include Andrew Peery on the memo line.
Tonight, as we unwind from our workaday lives, we can take comfort knowing that thousands of law officers across Colorado are on the job. Many will be placing their lives on the line in hopes of keeping us all safer. We thank them all for their service.