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Colorado shooter had criticized law enforcement in online videos

  • A memorial is seen on a police cruiser for the victims of what authorities describe as an ambush Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, at the Douglas Country Sheriff Substation in Highlands Ranch, Colo. A sheriff's deputy was killed and other deputies were shot while responding to a call at an apartment complex early Sunday. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via AP) Helen H. Richardson

  • Tributes to a sheriff's deputy killed in a shootout are seen outside a Douglas County, Colo., Sheriffs Department substation Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. A few deputies were shot, one fatally, while responding to a call at a nearby apartment complex early Sunday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) David Zalubowski

  • This undated photo provided by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office shows Sheriff's Deputy Jeffrey Pelle. Several sheriff's deputies were injured, including Pelle, when a man fired dozens of rounds at the deputies in Denver on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, before being fatally shot himself in what authorities called an ambush. (Douglas County Sheriff's Office via AP)

  • A tribute to a slain Douglas County sheriff's deputy is shown on the overhead scoreboard before the Colorado Avalanche played the New York Islanders in an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) David Zalubowski

  • 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 at the deputies, killing one. 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)

  • Tributes to a deputy killed in a shootout cover a patrol vehicle parked outside a Douglas County, Colo., Sheriffs Department substation Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. The deputy was killed and four other deputies were shot while responding to a call at a nearby apartment complex early Sunday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) David Zalubowski

  • The outside of a suburban Denver apartment building where authorities said Matthew Riehl fatally shot Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish is shown riddled with bullet holes, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Officials say more than 100 rounds were fired during the course of the New Year's Eve shooting, which also wounded four other officers and two residents. (AP Photo/Colleen Slevin) Colleen Slevin

  • Sheriff's deputies remove a spotlight, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, used to help investigators processing evidence at an apartment where Matthew Riehl allegedly fatally shot Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish and wounded six others in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, on Sunday. (AP Photo/Colleen Slevin) Colleen Slevin


Associated Press
Monday, January 01, 2018

DENVER — A man who shot and killed a Colorado deputy and wounded four others along with two civilians was an attorney and an Iraq war veteran who had posted videos online in recent months criticizing professors and law enforcement officials, authorities said Monday.

Shooter Matthew Riehl, 37, died Sunday during what officials called an ambush at his apartment building in Highlands Ranch, 16 miles (28 kilometers) south of Denver.

Authorities say Riehl fired more than 100 rounds in his apartment before he was killed by a SWAT team.

Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish was killed.

Riehl had received warnings from authorities about his online videos involving University of Wyoming professors and Colorado law enforcement officers.

However, despite concerns about his mental health, it seems officers weren’t able to prevent the violence, even though they visited his apartment hours before the fatal shooting.

KTWO-AM in Casper, Wyoming, reported that Wyoming College of Law students had been warned about Riehl, a former student, because of the social media posts critical of professors at the school in Laramie.

A Nov. 6 email from Assistant College of Law Dean Lindsay Hoyt told students to notify campus police if they saw Riehl or his car near campus.

In addition, security on campus was increased for several days.

Campus officers called police in Lone Tree, Colorado, in mid-November to warn them about Riehl, suggesting his rants were indicative of mental illness, UW Police Chief Mike Samp told The Denver Post.

Samp said 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 said.

A video posted on Nov. 28 showed a traffic stop of Riehl by a police officer in Lone Tree — apparently taken from inside the officer’s car.

Riehl said the video was made illegally after the officer clocked the wrong driver. He identified the officer by name in the video and called him “dirty.”

“Scumbag, dirt bag, liar,” Riehl says as the officer questions the driver.

Riehl posted another video on Dec. 13, saying he was running as a libertarian to replace Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock and complained about the sheriff and other officers in profane, highly personal terms.

Early Sunday, authorities responded to a complaint of a verbal disturbance involving two men at an apartment. A caller said Riehl was acting bizarre and might be having a mental breakdown, but responding deputies found no evidence of a crime.

When deputies were called back to the scene, a man who had left gave them a key and granted permission to enter the apartment.

All of the wounded victims except Deputy Jeff Pelle, 32, have been treated at hospitals and released. The son of Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle was in fair condition.

A candlelight vigil for Parrish was set Monday evening at Mission Hills Community Church in Littleton, Colorado — the church he attended with his wife and two young daughters.

“I’ve heard from so many different people that he just loved his community and being a police officer,” Mission Hills Pastor Craig Smith told KDVR-TV.

“Zack didn’t see law enforcement as a job. He saw it as a calling, as a way to serve his community and a blessing.”