CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - On New Year's Eve, Deputy Zackari Parrish of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office in Colorado was reportedly killed in an ambush-style shooting while responding to a disturbance call. Four other deputies and two civilians were hurt in the gunfire.
Tuesday, WBTV is learning Parrish previously attended Weddington Middle School and Metrolina Christian Academy just outside of Charlotte.
Before he was Deputy Zackari Parrish, he was "Zack", a Union County ball player, middle school student and friend.
"Every time I see his face you can't help but smile. Just an infectious personality," childhood friend Blake Stickley says.
Stickley still lives in North Carolina, now in Charlotte. His father Brian Stickley coached the pair on their little league team. He says he learned Parrish was killed through a phone call from a mutual friend.
"It's hard. It's hard to hear," he says.
The heartbreaking news is now bringing the old friend group, now miles apart, together again through the exchange of memories.
"I turned on the news and it was everywhere and I just couldn't believe it," Molly Vidovich, who now lives in Raleigh, says.
Vidovich says she also kept up with Parrish over the years. She remembers a kind soul, steadfast in his faith, someone who would always do for others.
"It's things like that that left a lasting impression on my seventh-grade heart," she says.
Parrish was reportedly shot ambush-style, several times when responding to the call Sunday. Four other officers and two civilians were also hurt in the gunfire.
"I couldn't be more proud than to say my buddy went in to protect and serve," Stickley says.
Even at a young age, their friend talked about serving in law enforcement.
"It's something Zack wanted to do," Stickley says. "It was his dream."
Now the group is honoring who their friend grew up to be, a man of faith, who laid down his life, to serve others.
"I know he's happier now and he's not feeling the pain we're feeling," Stickley says. "God called home one of his fiercest, strongest warriors."