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Neighbors confused, heartbroken after a man ambushes Douglas County officers

Posted at 6:34 PM, Dec 31, 2017
and last updated 2018-01-02 00:21:16-05

The Douglas County community is mourning the loss of a sheriff's deputy who was killed in the line of duty Sunday morning. Four others were injured along with two civilians.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office says the officers were responding to calls of a domestic dispute when the suspect opened fire.

Steven Silknitter, who lives in the apartment complex, received a call from his son a short time later saying an active shooter was in the area. Silknitter, who works overnight as a truck driver while he pursues a secondary degree, immediately thought of his fiancé, who was still at home.

“I was just trying to make sure she was OK. This is the last thing I would’ve ever thought of my complex,” Silknitter said.

He called and called but couldn’t get ahold of her. That’s when panic set in.

“I was deathly afraid I was going to go home, and she would be gone,” he said. “It’s one of those rare treats I think I found of her, and the thought of losing her is I just don’t even want to go there.”

So Silknitter raced home to try to get to his fiancé, but he couldn’t get in because the entire area had been blocked off. So, he parked as close to the building as he could, parked and got out. That’s when he heard the gunshots.

“It was like pop, pop, then pop, pop, pop, pop and then return fire and you right away you knew it was gunfire,” Silknitter said.

That’s when the questions started coming.

“Is it at my building? Are there bullets going through the wall? I mean just everything you can think of is going to your mind,” Silknitter said.

Silknitter watched as police cars, fire trucks and ambulances flew by with lights and sirens blaring.

“That’s when I noticed what officers in the back of the car racing to the hospital. Going as fast as they were, it was clear that there was something bad that happened,” he said.

Finally, he was able to get in touch with his fiancé Vira Cover. She had been asleep.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Cover said. “I went out onto our patio, and the neighbors across over there thought there might be fireworks, and I said 'No, it’s an active shooter. We should probably all get back inside.' 

Cover listened to rounds of gunshots being fired.

“I was scared, yeah. I mean that gunfire was so close,” Cover said. “I just couldn’t believe it. I was in shock.”

Not far away, Troy Broadhead was heading home on County Line Road when he hit a roadblock. He tried two different routes but couldn’t get through.

“All these cop cars started coming up County Line Road, just everything, everything, and I just thought something crazy was happening,” Broadhead said.

Broadhead used to live in the apartment complex next door, so he knew about a bike path that backed up to the apartments.

“Then I heard a pop it was like a rifle shot,” Broadhead said. “There were cops on C-470 looking through that barrier position and everything and so they probably didn’t know I was in the area. What went through my mind is, you know, I probably got to get down I’ve got to get out of here.”

When Broadhead learned the name of the deputy who had been killed, his heart sank. He recognized Parrish.

“I used to come out of my complex, and I had a little sports car. He stopped me a couple of times, but didn’t give me a ticket,” Broadhead said. 

Broadhead said he’s only ever known Parrish to be an understanding police officer.

“What a special guy and my heart goes out to his family, just the whole community. He was really a nice guy,” Broadhead said.

Cover, too, feels the pain of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

“I feel so sorry for them. I feel so bad. I just I’m sending my thoughts and my prayers and just for healing in the community because it’s going to affect the whole community,” Cover said.

Now Silknitter is wondering whether he should consider moving or stay in the same apartment.

“Where do you go from here? Do you stay in the complex? Where do you move to? Where do you go that you don’t have to worry about someone shooting up an apartment or house,” Silknitter asked. “That stuff just doesn’t happen here.”

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