Colorado Mourns Lawman Gunned Down by US Air Force Employee

Peery

El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Steven Peery was born Dec. 12, 1982, and was killed in the line of duty on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, in Colorado. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.

An El Paso County sheriff’s deputy gunned down this week by a US Air Force employee is being remembered as “One Man,” the nickname he got from fellow lawmen who overheard him telling someone on the other line, “I don’t do any of that stuff; I’m just one man out here.”

It rang true to other law enforcement officers because Deputy Andrew Peery “would always do more than what was being asked of him,” said Lt. Paul Mynatt, the El Paso County sheriff’s specialized enforcement section leader and SWAT commander.

Peery, 39, died Sunday, Aug. 7, after a man opened fire on deputies responding to reports of gunshots at a Security-Widefield residence. Investigators believe the man who shot Peery — John Paz, 33 — also killed his wife before fatally shooting himself.

Rosie Kelley, the mother of the slain woman, identified her as 26-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Paz, a Marine veteran.

Air Force Employee

El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Peery shakes hands with a protester during civil unrest in 2020 in Colorado. Photo courtesy of David Fisher.

The US Air Force Academy’s chief of media operations, Dean J. Miller, confirmed John Paz had been hired as a squadron aviation resource management technician at the school on Dec. 5, 2021. Miller said Paz had been assigned to the 94th Flying Training Squadron at the school’s airfield.

“The US Air Force Academy expresses our deepest sadness at the loss of life, including El Paso County Sherriff’s Deputy Andrew Peery on Sunday,” Miller told Coffee or Die Magazine in an email message. “Our condolences go out to all the friends and family affected by Sunday’s incident.”

Peery’s longtime partner, Deputy David Fisher, told Coffee or Die it’s “humbling what impact One Man has had on everyone” around him.

Air Force Employee

Authorities have identified John Paz, 33, as the suspected gunman who killed El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Peery on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, in Colorado. Paz was a squadron aviation resource management technician assigned to the 94th Flying Training Squadron at the US Air Force Academy’s airfield. El Paso Sheriff’s Office photo.

He said Peery had served as a US Army sniper and brought those marksmanship skills to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office six years ago after transferring from the Bakersfield Police Department.

Peery joined the county SWAT and rose to sniper team lead. Fisher said they’d “worked hundreds of missions together,” and Peery had always proved he “was 100% a cop’s cop.”

“He was always there to cover on calls and back up his district partners,” Fisher said in an email to Coffee or Die. “He had this natural ability to befriend anyone regardless of who they were or their assignment in the office or elsewhere. Everyone loved Peery because he had this ability to make everyone feel important, that they held worth as a person. He was larger than life.”

Peery hated getting his picture taken, especially if he was wearing a hat. Fisher said he never let that become an excuse for Peery to get shy when it was time to be recognized for his leadership and his competence as a cop.

Air Force Employee

David Fisher and Andrew Peery, deputies at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, provide flight-line security at US Air Force Academy graduation on May 24, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photo courtesy of David Fisher.

Mynatt told Coffee or Die that Peery had especially hated the duty photo of him in his uniform. In order to always capture Peery’s image for the law enforcement office’s weekly newsletter, “The Informer,” deputies would hold up the picture while they were being photographed.

“I think that that would be a good tradition, maybe once a month, just have a picture of Andrew pop up somewhere of us holding it or any of the SWAT guys in ‘The Informer’ holding that picture up,” Mynatt told Coffee or Die. “I think that’s a good idea.”

Peery was born Dec. 12, 1982, in Kern County, California.

He was preceded in death by his father, David, who served in the Los Angeles Police Department before becoming an investigator for the Kern County district attorney.

He is survived by his wife, Megan, and children, Matt and Amy.

Air Force Employee

El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Ray Bernier, left, presents a birthday card to Deputy Brandon Hall while he displays a picture of Deputy Andrew Peery in a recent edition of “The Informer,” the office’s newsletter. Photo courtesy of Paul Mynatt.

Fisher told Coffee or Die Peery loved his kids. It’s why he always knew about Matt Peery’s personal best times in cross country.

But he said Peery had a goofy side, too. Fisher pointed to Peery’s love of Blackbeard’s pirate flag because, to the deputy, it had “represented doing hoodrat things with his friends.” Fisher said Peery could make his “resting bitch face” disappear by pulling up next to him in a cruiser, an energy drink dangling from the window.

He’s going to miss Peery’s “daily talks about nothing.”

“I will miss having him as a partner on calls and miss being able to bounce tactics and ideas off each other before and during missions. But most of all I will miss my friend.”

Peery’s funeral service is slated for Monday, Aug. 15, at New Life Church at 11045 Voyager Parkway, Colorado Springs. A private burial service will follow.

“One of our favorite sayings on the team is, ‘No one is coming. It is up to us,’ which embodies the premise that SWAT is the final layer between chaos and security,” Fisher said. “It is up to us to finish the mission. And Peery embodied that to the very end.”

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Noelle is an award-winning journalist from Cincinnati, Ohio, who came to Coffee or Die Magazine following a fellowship from Military Veterans in Journalism. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has strived to be a military journalist ever since her internships with the US Army Cadet Command in college. She worked as a civilian journalist covering several units, including the 75th Ranger Regiment on Fort Benning, before she joined the military herself and served as a public affairs specialist attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. She deployed once to fill a role as a media analyst for the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve in Kuwait. She has a passion for sharing stories of heroes and people who are far more interesting than they think they are. She follows where the job takes her, but currently resides on the East Coast in Georgia.
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