UW Law School Graduate Kills Colorado Deputy

Jan 3, 2018

Credit By ProgWork1 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this fall, the University of Wyoming sent emails to law school students with concerns about the 37-year-old man who shot at police officers in Highlands Ranch, Colorado on Sunday morning.  

Matthew Riehl was a UW Law School graduate who at one time practiced law in Wyoming, and a veteran who served in Iraq. Matthew Riehl had been posting threatening and irrational statements about law school faculty, according to UW Police Chief Mike Samp.

“In particular, early on, it was two faculty members, one that happened to be the former dean. They were very profane, vulgar accusations against these two individuals and then vaguely against the law school,” Samp said. “So it was veiled statements that mentioned shooting and other things, but the way he phrased them, we were not able to look at anything from a prosecution standpoint.”

Samp said his department notified Colorado law enforcement when they found out Riehl was living in a suburb near Denver. Around the time UWPD shared what they knew with the Lone Tree Police Department, officers there stopped Riehl for speeding. What followed was a series of inflammatory posts and emails from Reihl directed at Lone Tree police. In a statement, Lone Tree officials said police contacted the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office about Riehl’s behavior.

Riehl had a threatening social media presence during the last year, but Laramie Representative and former classmate Charles Pelkey said this did not match how Riehl acted when they attended law school together a decade ago. Pelkey said he and Riehl had stayed in touch until this past summer, when Pelkey posted about the transgender military ban on Facebook.

“And Matt just railed on me and on a number of really nice people who had posted either in support or in opposition,” Pelkey said. “I had no problem with him opposing what my view was, but it was vitriolic and insulting, and I would delete those posts and he would come back with something even worse and I finally just blocked him and that was the last communication I had with him.”

This past weekend, Douglas County officers responded to a domestic disturbance call at Riehl’s home, and he opened fire, killing a deputy and injuring three officers and two civilians. All of those who were injured are in stable condition, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.