By Rick Sallinger

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The family of murdered Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Heath Gumm has sent a letter of thanks to the public. It was read at a news conference by Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh on Friday afternoon.

“Our family would like to express our sincere gratitude for the incredible support and empathy expressed during this difficult time. We have truly been amazed by the generous nature of the community. Our hearts are warmed by the display of compassion from complete strangers who stood, and continue stand alongside our family. As we passed behind the tinted windows of a brightly lit motorcade, your heartfelt wishes for our husband, son and brother has given his life a beautiful purpose.

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(credit: CBS)

“We have no words that appropriately say thank you for the donations sent and offers to help to our extended law enforcement family as they continue to watch over our family and community.

“We would also like to express our gratitude for all law enforcement officers who served by Heath’s side, and all those who now work to honor his life and service. This family support means more to us than we will ever be able to effectively describe. Please stay safe as you continue to watch over those you made a commitment to serve. You are all deeply appreciated. Finally, we respectfully ask for your continued assistance respecting our privacy as we move through this time of healing and much needed rest.”

The sheriff made it clear even though they believe the killer is in custody, their work on the case is not over.

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Heath Gumm (credit: Adams County)

“There is nothing that is more important than making sure that this investigation is done properly,” said McIntosh.

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Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh (credit: CBS)

In court no identifying pictures of the defendant, Dreion Dearing, were allowed.

He was advised by Judge Patrick Murphy who sternly said, “Now listen carefully to me Mr. Dearing are you listening? You need to say, yes your honor.”

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(credit: CBS)

Dearing, 22, obeyed.

Some friends of the fallen deputy wanted to be present for the court appearance.

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(credit: CBS)

Blair Sparks was among them, “Because I knew Deputy Gumm, I worked with him at the jail.”

Dearing was arrested Wednesday night near where the shooting occurred in Thornton.

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(credit: CBS)

Deputies were initially called to the location on a report of a disturbance.

On Friday, McIntosh gave a little more detail on the events, “It was kind of a physical fight between some who had come to that location and some who were living at that location.”

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Scene of ‘officer down’ in Adams County (credit: CBS)

He said their suspect had come from outside that area.

Formal charges of murder of a police officer are expected to be filed against Dearing next week.

The sheriff also announced the two other people sought by authorities have been found, interviewed and are not being charged at this time.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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