Wyoming authorities warned Lone Tree, Co., police about bizarre implied threats more than six weeks before a gunman killed a Douglas County, Co., deputy and wounded four law enforcement officers, the Denver Post reports. University of Wyoming detectives said that Iraq war veteran Matthew Edward Riehl, 37, had made veiled threats against professors of the university’s law school, where he earned a law degree, and that his vulgar, nonsensical rantings were indicative of a mental illness, said Chief Mike Samp of the University of Wyoming Police Department. The warning was conveyed in mid-November, more than six weeks before Riehl shot and killed Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish. Samp said Colorado authorities may have faced the same conundrum Wyoming officials do when an apparently mentally ill and dangerous person makes veiled but not direct, imminent threats. “Wyoming statutes are pretty clear: If someone is not making an immediate threat, they cannot by held for a mental evaluation. They are very tough cases,” Samp said.
Sunday morning, four deputies answered a domestic disturbance call to an apartment when Riehl allegedly fired more than 100 shots, killing Parrish and wounding three other deputies, a Castle Rock police officer and two neighbors. Riehl was gunned down in an exchange of gunfire with SWAT officers. Riehl, using the pseudonym Matt Gonzo, posted the threats on websites he created, said Chad Baldwin, university spokesman. “It certainly did catch our attention. Anyone who read those posts can be left with an opinion that they were threatening. They were certainly alarming and bizarre,” Baldwin said. “We opened an investigation.” Reihl also sent veiled threats in emails to the former dean of the law school and other professors, Samp said. In one, Reihl included a picture of him holding an AR-15.