Weeks Before Colo. Ambush, a Warning on the Gunman

Campus officers in Wyoming were worried about Matthew Riehl
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 2, 2018 3:46 AM CST
Colorado Police Were Warned About Gunman's Mental State
Gracie Parrish, center, holds a candle for her late husband, Zackari Parrish, a Douglas County deputy, at Mission Hills Church in Littleton, Colo., on Monday.   (Dougal Brownlie/The Gazette via AP)

Colorado authorities were contacted with concerns about the mental health of Matthew Riehl over a month before he shot and killed a deputy and wounded four others. But the 37-year-old man was never held for a mental health evaluation, the AP reports. Authorities say Riehl fired more than 100 rounds in his suburban Denver apartment before he was killed by a SWAT team on Sunday. University of Wyoming College of Law students had been warned about Riehl, a former student, because of social media posts critical of professors at the school in Laramie, reports KTWO-AM. A Nov. 6 email from Assistant College of Law Dean Lindsay Hoyt told students to notify campus police if they spotted Riehl or his car near campus. In addition, security on campus was increased for several days.

Campus officers called police in Colorado in mid-November to warn them about Riehl, suggesting his rants were indicative of mental illness, UW Police Chief Mike Samp tells the Denver Post. Samp says it's possible that Colorado authorities faced the same issue as Wyoming officials when an apparently mentally ill, dangerous person makes indirect threats. "Wyoming statutes are pretty clear: If someone is not making an immediate threat, they cannot be held for a mental evaluation. They are very tough cases," Samp says. Riehl, an attorney and an Iraq war veteran, had also posted videos criticizing Colorado law enforcement officers in profane, highly personal terms. Hundreds gathered Monday night for a candlelight vigil for Zackari Parrish, the 29-year-old deputy killed by Riehl, inside Mission Hills Church in Littleton, Colo.—the church he attended with his wife and two young children.

(More Colorado stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.