Members of the public began dotting Grace Boulevard — which was the final leg of the funeral procession route for Deputy Zackari Parrish — well before 9 a.m. on Jan. 5.
Three of those crowd members in Highlands Ranch were 11-year-old Aiden Case, 12-year-old Ben Katanic and his 9-year-old brother, Blake. The boys — congregation members at Cherry Hills Community Church and students at Cherry Hills Christian School — remembered Parrish as one of the officers who provided security for the school.
“He gave kids high-fives and he was a nice guy,” said Case, a sixth-grader at the school. “He would ask us how we were doing.”
Blake Katanic, a third-grader, remembered Parrish handing out police stickers to him and other students and joining them at their lunch table where he spent time getting to know them. The boys said they wanted to attend the procession to thank Parrish for his service.
“I think mostly to give honor,” Case said, “for what he gave us.”
LeAnn Katanic, 45, who is Ben and Blake's mother, said she felt it was important for the Castle Rock family to participate that day because her children were connected to Parrish.
Case's mother, 40-year-old Shara Case, of Castle Pines, said she and her son wanted to help commemorate Parrish because they viewed him as part of their community.
“Just honoring someone who gave his time to us. This is our community. This is our home, our church and our school. He was a part of that,” she said.
Shanah Windey-Bale, 51, a saleswoman from Highlands Ranch, said she also attended with her 9-year-old twin sons, Kiefer and Kole, to show support.
“It's hard to put into words,” she said when asked what it means for the community to lose an officer in the line of duty. “His sacrifice is our sacrifice, so we owe it to him to pay our respects…When it happens in your backyard it becomes personal.”
Windey-Bale and her family live near the sheriff's office substation in Highlands Ranch where a vehicle covered in flowers and gifts is set up as a memorial for Parrish. She described the scene as “very emotional.”
“It's a very quiet, grieving area,” she said. “To see the vehicle with all of the cards and the flowers and all the notes, it's beyond words.”
Farther down the procession route, crowds gathered at each corner of the intersection of Grace Boulevard and Wildcat Reserve Parkway. Parents held their children bundled in blankets, many waved flags of various sizes or held posters, and law enforcement working the area stood with arms and hands folded in front of them.
There, Shane Callahan, a 43-year-old investment adviser from Highlands Ranch, observed the procession with his 6-year-old daughter Carley and 4-year-old son Gavin.
Callahan, who is related to a police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, said law enforcement is “under appreciated” and in need of the community support at this time.
When the procession approached the intersection, the crowd fell nearly silent and Callahan called each of his children to attention. Carley, sitting atop her turquoise bike in a pink stocking cap, rolled to the street front and waved a flag as Parrish's hearse drove by. Callahan picked up Gavin and held him over the crowd so he could see the scene.
“They don't understand everything,” Callahan said. “They don't need to know everything. They need to know it's important to come together as a community.”