By Kathy Walsh
LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4)– Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Pelle, son of Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, was one of three Douglas County Deputies wounded when a gunman ambushed them at a Highlands Ranch apartment complex Sunday.
A Castle Rock police officer was also injured. Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish was killed.
Speaking outside Littleton Adventist Hospital Monday, Pelle’s father said Jeff’s injuries are substantial, both physical and emotional.
In a picture taken at his hospital bedside Sunday, Jeff and his family were all thumbs up.
“Grateful for the fact that he’s going to be okay,” Sheriff Pelle told CBS4’s Kathy Walsh.
But the sheriff shared details of the suffering you couldn’t see behind the smiles in the photo.
“It was a long drive down here from Boulder County,” he said.
Sheriff Pelle has been in law enforcement for 39 years.
“It’s sure different when it’s your son,” he said.
Early Sunday morning, the Pelles learned 32-year-old Jeff had been shot in an ambush in Highlands Ranch. Their strong, fit, son was hit with one bullet that collapsed his lung, perforated his diaphragm and liver and broke his ribs.
“He’s in a lot of pain (physically),” said Sheriff Pelle.
He explained that emotional pain followed.
“He (Jeff) didn’t know that Zack had passed away yet, so we had to have that discussion,” said the Sheriff.
Zack is Deputy Zackari Parrish, Jeff’s friend he tried to save after the shooting.
“He (Jeff) was bent over trying to pull his friend out and the bullet went in here and traveled all the way through his body,” said Sheriff Pelle.
When asked if Jeff’s attempt to help his friend and fellow officer surprised him, the sheriff said, “No, that’s what we do.”
And now, heartsick law officers will support the Parrish family, Zack’s grieving widow and two little girls.
“By fractions of an inch that could be us as well,” said Sheriff Pelle.
He said he’s thankful for his really strong faith, his big, strong, supportive family and a lot of friends.