HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — Before Sunday’s deadly shooting spree, Matthew Riehl raised red flags with his disjointed diatribes against law enforcement and his alma mater, prompting the University of Wyoming to issue warnings to students and staff.
The University of Wyoming College of Law alerted the campus in November after Riehl, who graduated with a law degree in 2010, posted “rambling, nonsensical messages on his Facebook page,” according to emails released Monday by university spokesman Chad Baldwin.
“He has made it known in some of these postings that he is no friend of the Law School,” said the Nov. 6 email from assistant dean Lindsay Anne Hoyt to faculty and staff. “Administration thought it prudent to make you aware of his face and vehicle (pictures attached) — if you see him, his vehicle, or notice anything suspicious, please report it ASAP.”
Authorities said the suspect shot and killed Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish, 29, and wounded six others, including four officers, before being killed by a SWAT team in a bloody, early-morning confrontation Sunday at an apartment complex in suburban Highlands Ranch.
In her Nov. 6 email to students, Ms. Hoyt said that the university had received “information about suspicious behavior involving a former student.”
“There have been no direct threats to faculty, staff, or students, but as a precaution, students are being notified of this situation,” she said.
After law school, Riehl, 37, worked for a time as a lawyer in Wyoming. Prior to that, he served in the Army Reserves and was deployed to Iraq from 2009-10, receiving an honorable discharge in 2012, according to 9News Denver.
So far there is no evidence that Riehl was violent prior to the shooting — Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said he had no criminal record — but his social-media posts show he harbored grudges against the university and the sheriff’s office.
In a Dec. 13 video entitled “Fire Sheriff Spurlock,” Riehl said he was running as a Libertarian candidate against Sheriff Tony Spurlock and accused one of his deputies of being a “pimp.”
“I’m Matthew Riehl, running for Libertarian candidate,” he said. “I flub every once in a while. But we all do. And you know who’s going to flub big time next election? Spurlock. He’s a clown. And so is his whole posse and crew. We’re going to fire all these bums come next year.”
In a Nov. 28 video called “Dirty Lone Tree CO cops,” he blasts the “Nazi-style” Lone Tree police officer who apparently gave him a traffic ticket.
“Arrest these Nazis in Lone Tree 80124. They violate the 14th Amendment on a daily basis,” Mr. Riehl said in the YouTube post.
Under the name “Matt Gonzo,” as identified by Heavy and Forbes, he posted shots of himself firing a rifle, including one captioned “Shoot selfies, not animals,” and pictures of alt-right cartoon figure Pepe the Frog and former Rep. Ron Paul, a leader of the libertarian movement.
The Libertarian Party of Colorado said in a Sunday statement that Riehl was not a member of the organization, nor had he ever been nominated or endorsed for any office.
“The core of Libertarian philosophy is a belief in a peaceful means to political change and a repudiation of the initiation of physical force for political or social reasons,” said Libertarian state chair Wayne Harlos. “Ambushing any person and committing physical violence is as blatant a denial of the party’s beliefs as any action can be.”
Sheriff Spurlock said Riehl fired more than 100 rounds from his rifle in an “ambush-style” shooting after officers responded at 5:17 a.m. Sunday to reports of a disturbance involving Riehl and another man for the second time that morning.
The sheriff’s report said that the other man told them that “the suspect was acting bizarre and might be having a mental breakdown.”
A candlelight vigil for Deputy Parrish, who leaves behind a wife and two young daughters, was scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at the family’s church, Mission Hills Church in Littleton, Colorado.
The other six people wounded in the attack, including two civilians, sustained non-life-threatening injuries, the sheriff said.