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Former Law Student Killed After Fatally Shooting Officer
Image Courtesy of Quentin Kemmel

Matthew Riehl, a former University of Wyoming College of Law, student opened fire this month on several Denver deputies.  He killed Zackari Parrish while streaming the shooting on social media.  Four other officers were injured as well as two bystanders who lived in adjacent apartments.  Riehl wounded Douglas County Sheriff Deputies Mike Doyle, 28, Taylor Davis, 30, and Jeff Pelle, 32, and Castle Rock police Officer Tom O’Donnell, 41.  Officers killed Riehl during the incident.

Riehl filmed himself calling 911 early Sunday and telling a dispatcher that he had been the victim of domestic violence.  When deputies responded around 3 A.M., Riehl yelled through the door, “I’m coming out!  I don’t have any guns on me.  I’ll be a minute.  Just give me a second,” according to the footage.  Riehl then opened the door and spoke with the deputies.

“I just feel you are very upset,” one of them told Riehl.

Image Courtesy of Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

“Yeah, I am. I was assaulted, and you didn’t help me,” Riehl replied and added that the assault happened that night.  When the deputy told him he needed to file a civil complaint, Riehl replied that he already said he wanted to file a civil complaint, adding almost incoherently, “They lied.”

Authorities then left the apartment after concluding no crime had been committed.  However, they returned shortly after 5:30 A.M. on yet another call and Riehl’s roommate met them outside, giving them a key.  Riehl retreated to his bedroom and began yelling as officers entered, “Go away!  Don’t come in.  I warn you!”  He then yells, “Identify! What’s your name?”  A second later, a round of gunshots rings out and an officer is killed.

Riehl raised some eyebrows prior to the shooting when he began to write posts targeting law professors at the University, some with bizarre content, including a post regarding a dream he had that he raped a former professor.

An email was released on November 6, 2017, urging faculty to be on the lookout for the former student and to immediately notify campus police should he be spotted.  The email indicated the law school had received information regarding “suspicious behavior”.  Campus police had increased security at the school following Riehl’s social media posts and had passed the information along to officers.

Riehl had been identified as a troubled student during his tenure at UW.  He eventually graduated from the law school in 2010, however, and received a license to practice in Wyoming the following year.  After school, he practiced first at a firm in Rawlins, then opened his own practice, but he voluntarily withdrew from the bar in 2016.

Riehl’s mother said her son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following a stint he did in Iraq from 2009 to 2010.  He escaped from a veterans’ mental health hospital in 2014 after being treated for a psychotic episode.  Riehl was eventually located by administrators and returned to complete treatment.  Hospital staff placed him on a three-day mental health hold.  Riehl’s brother also told investigators the man suffered from bipolar disorder and he refused to have any contact with his family following his mental breakdown.

Sources:

Douglas County shooter escaped from VA hospital in 2014 after being held for psychotic episode

Law school had asked students to watch for ‘suspicious’ grad who later opened fire on deputies

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