Colorado man made descent from star student to deputy killer – Uncertainty remains whether shooter was prohibited to buy guns because of mental illness

LEFT: This undated photo provided by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office shows Sheriff's Deputy Jeffrey Pelle who was fatally shot in an ambush in suburban Denver on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. Four other sheriff's deputies were wounded. (Douglas County Sheriff's Office via AP) RIGHT: This undated photo released by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office shows Matthew Riehl. The 37-year-old man was shot to death Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, after shooting the deputies, killing Jeffery Pelle. Authorities in suburban Denver are investigating what led Riehl to fire more than 100 rounds in his apartment on sheriff's deputies. (Douglas County Sheriff via AP)

By DAN ELLIOTT and KATHLEEN FOODY,  Associated Press  DENVER (AP) 01/04 — He was once a standout student in law school and an Army medic who deployed to Iraq. By last weekend, he lay dead in a Colorado apartment building, killed by a SWAT team after he gunned down a 29-year-old deputy.

Matthew Riehl’s six-year descent from a budding attorney to a gunman who live-streamed some of the final violent hours of his life was accompanied by episodes of mental illness, according to police and a document from the Veterans Affairs Department.

Three days after the gunbattle with authorities, it was still unclear whether Riehl’s problems were grave enough to legally disqualify him from buying a weapon. Police have said he had a rifle, but they haven’t released details about what weapons were used or how he obtained them.

Federal standards prevent anyone from buying a gun who has been determined to be a danger to themselves or others by a court or other authority. People who have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution also can’t buy from federally licensed gun dealers.

Riehl was hospitalized at a VA psychiatric ward in Wyoming in 2014, and at one point he was placed under a 72-hour mental health hold there, according to a VA document obtained by The Associated Press and other news outlets this week.

But the agency declined to say whether that treatment meant Riehl should not have been allowed to own a gun.

Stephen Fischer, a spokesman for the FBI division that manages the background-check databases used for gun purchases, didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to a request for more information.

KDVR-TV in Denver reported Wednesday that Riehl had purchased 11 firearms from a store in Laramie, Wyoming, between 2010 and 2013, but it wasn’t immediately known whether any of those guns were used in the Colorado shooting.

A Laramie Police Department report said David Smith, owner of Dave’s Guns, told police Riehl passed the required background checks. No one answered an after-hours call to Smith’s store Wednesday.

Revelations about Riehl’s mental health history came to light amid increased scrutiny of background-check databases.

After former Air Force member Devin P. Kelley massacred 26 people at a Texas church in November, the Air Force acknowledged it failed to alert the FBI that he had a criminal history.

Kelley had been convicted of assaulting his then-wife and stepson in 2012, when he was still in the Air Force. The military never reported the conviction to the FBI, which should have stopped Kelley from buying weapons, and later blamed training and compliance measures. Kelley was found dead after the killings.

In Riehl’s case, a sketchy but striking picture of his life began to emerge. He joined the Army Reserve in 2003 and later the Wyoming Army National Guard, serving as a medic. He enrolled in the University of Wyoming College of Law and was named to the dean’s honor roll in fall 2007.

He interrupted school to serve a tour of duty in Kuwait and Iraq from 2009 to 2010. Returning to law school, he won a coveted spot on a team of students which sometimes got to argue before the Wyoming Supreme Court. He graduated in 2011 and left the military with an honorable discharge in 2012.

Some news reports have cited people who described Riehl sometimes behaving oddly in law school.

Riehl’s records did not show any military service-related psychiatric disorders, according to the VA document. But within two years of his discharge, he appeared to lose his way: In April 2014, he suffered a psychotic episode and was hospitalized in the mental health ward of the Sheridan, Wyoming, veterans hospital, the document said.

He escaped but was found and returned, the document said. A year later, in June 2015, he had an “urgent contact for mental health” with a different VA hospital, according to the document.

It offers few details and does not describe the nature of Riehl’s psychiatric problems. The VA has refused to elaborate, citing privacy concerns.

By mid-2016, Riehl was at the center of a string of worrisome events reported by police in Colorado and Wyoming: A fight with his father and a call to police from his mother, who was concerned about his mental health. He posted tirades on social media about the faculty at the Wyoming law school and sent harassing emails to police after getting a speeding ticket, authorities said.

University of Wyoming police began investigating Riehl last October after the social media posts, including a vague threat to shoot someone, The Denver Post reported . Riehl’s brother told campus police that Matthew Riehl had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

By Nov. 14, university police were concerned enough to call Colorado authorities about Riehl, according to police in Lone Tree, Colorado, about 18 miles (25 miles) south of Denver.

On Sunday, Riehl dialed 911 and police responded to his apartment in Highlands Ranch, not far from Lone Tree. He opened fire, police said, killing Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish and wounding four other officers and two civilians.

Parrish’s funeral will be Friday.

 

https://www.apnews.com/7181f632bdd84b9497c84af9f05b4ba9/Colorado-man-made-descent-from-star-student-to-deputy-killer

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Attacks on Police, FBI, Firearms, Homicide, Injuries, Line-of-Duty Deaths, Mental Illness, Police Officers Shot, Prohibited Person/Felon in Possession, Shootings, SWAT

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 × five =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.