By Dillon Thomas
LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – Fourteen years after playing his final game at Longmont High School, Douglas County Deputy Jeff Pelle returned to center court at his high school, this time to be honored for his service.
On Dec. 31, 2017 Deputy Zack Parrish was killed in a shooting. Pelle, and three others, were shot and wounded in the same ambush.
Pelle was welcomed back to his high school on Saturday as hundreds applauded him for his service.
“It is another example of a Longmont Trojan going out and doing great things for the community in which they serve,” said Rick Olsen, Principal of Longmont High.
Since learning of the shooting, Pelle’s former coach and the current basketball team wanted to honor him.
“When I first heard he was one of the injured parties, it came home. He is part of our family,” said Jeff Kloster, head basketball coach.
Kloster coached Pelle when he was part of the 2004 starting lineup at Longmont High.
Kloster said he knew Pelle would recover from his wounds, especially after recalling a time he broke his leg during a game.
“He continued to play. That shows you the toughness that Jeff Pelle always brought. He is just a remarkable young man,” Kloster said. “He was what I call my enforcer.”
Pelle stood at half-court, as the crowd applauded. By his side was his wife and his former coach.
“The thing I always admired about him was his fortitude. He is one of those guys that, when the chips are down, he is going to battle,” Kloster said.
Those who knew Pelle best said they were just glad to see him up and walking again with a new zest for life.
“He has been given a second lease on life. I know he will do great things with it,” Kloster said.
“Once a Trojan, always a Trojan,” Olsen said.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.