When Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle's son, Douglas County Deputy Sheriff Jeff Pelle, was considering pursuing a career in law enforcement in high school, the two had many conversations regarding the high stakes that come with police work.

"When he was making a career decision and deciding what to do in college, we talked about it a lot," Joe Pelle said.

Jeff Pelle was one of four Douglas County sheriff's deputies shot — one of them fatally — on Sunday morning while responding to a domestic disturbance call at a Highlands Ranch apartment.

A Castle Rock police officer was also shot, as were two civilians, and police later shot and killed the gunman.

Jeff Pelle, 32, is continuing to recover from a gunshot wound, but remains in "a tremendous amount of pain," his father told the Daily Camera on Tuesday evening.

"He is hurt and he is hurting," Joe Pelle said. He added his son is still recovering from a collapsed lung, but is expected to recover from his injuries.

"They got him up today with a lot of help and he walked around the ICU," Joe Pelle said. "The bullet missed his heart by an inch."

Although he is happy his son survived the incident, Joe Pelle said a "mixed bag of emotions" exists, because his son's colleague, Deputy Zackari Parrish, was fatally shot in the incident.


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"It could have been our funeral, so there is a relief," Joe Pelle said. "There is also a tremendous sadness for the family of Zack and his little girls."

Parrish, 29, is survived by a wife and two young daughters.

Joe Pelle said that he and his family have received a great deal of support from his church, the community at large and his colleagues at the Boulder County Sheriff's Office.

"It's been wonderful," he said. "It's been overwhelming. We haven't been able to respond to everyone."

He said that when his son, a Longmont High School graduate, finished his education at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, he attended the Weld County Law Enforcement Academy.

He said his son took his first police job in Pueblo County — far enough from Boulder County that he could make his own reputation as a police officer. Jeff Pelle, who has been a police officer for about seven years, eventually took a job at the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

"He couldn't have gotten hired or promoted (in Boulder County) without everyone second-guessing him," Joe Pelle said. "His start in Pueblo was good. None of his coworkers knew who I was. He was down there making it on his own."

The Denver Post and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

John Bear: 303-473-1355, bearj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/jonbearwithme