Colorado gunman live streamed shooting; prior online posts cause for concern, but no grounds for police action

Screensaver: Gephardt Daily/Periscope

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colorado, Jan. 2, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Authorities in Colorado confirm the gunman suspected of killing a sheriff’s deputy and wounding four others live-streamed the shooting on social media.

The 70-minute video, which was cached online and obtained by Gephardt Daily, not only captures the deadly shooting, but also the events leading up to it.

It was not the first video the shooter, identified as 37-year-old Matthew Riehl, had posted online, and law enforcement officials from multiple jurisdictions, including Douglas County, had been reviewing those postings prior to the shooting.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Lead Public Information Officer Lauren Lekander confirmed the shooting video’s authenticity to Gephardt Daily.

“We are aware of the video and it is being evaluated as part of the ongoing investigation,” she said.

She also said the Sheriff’s Department had been reviewing earlier posts where he had taken a local deputy to task and called Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock “a clown.” He also touted his own Libertarian candidacy for sheriff.

“We were familiar with him and some of his videos prior to the incident,” Lekander said.

“We had seen the Twitter and Periscope videos he was creating. I had been watching him for maybe a week’s time and there was no legitimate quantifiable threats that we could act on, although the videos were certainly strange.”

Lekander also confirmed the Sheriff’s Office had requested the shooting video be removed from Periscope, shortly after the incident. Periscope quickly complied.

Authorities in Douglas County, Colorado confirm the shooting of local sheriff’s deputies was shown live online by the suspected gunman. The video has since been pulled at the request of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Video still: Gephardt Daily/Periscope.

It has also come to light that the shooter had recently posted disturbing online messages mentioning the University of Wyoming’s School of Law, from which he graduated in 2010.

The posts were characterized as “rambling” and “nonsensical” in a letter circulated to college administrators and faculty, who were asked to contact police if Riehl appeared on campus.

In the video leading up to the shooting, Riehl became angry when deputies came to his apartment door to talk about a restraining order he wished to file against his domestic partner.

When deputies told Riehl they were also there to talk about a noise complaint and to see if he was all right, he refused to cooperate, demanding to speak with the deputies’ supervisor. He also demanded to see a search warrant and refused to let officers into his apartment.

The deputies retreated after the suspect shut the door and announced he was going to bed.

The deputies ultimately returned, along with backup. According to Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, officers were let into the apartment by someone inside, and had just made contact with Riehl in his bedroom when he suddenly opened fire.

One of the deputies was mortally wounded in the initial volley. Three others were also hit, but managed to crawl from the apartment.

While the live stream played out on the Internet, the gunman continued to rant before approaching the gravely wounded deputy and shooting him at point blank range.

Moments later, he rummaged through the downed deputy’s pockets, saying that he was looking for a search warrant.

“There’s no warrant,” he exclaimed. “It’s illegal search and seizure! This is a classic courtroom defense!”

He then shot the deputy again.

As the video progresses, the gunman’s audio becomes muffled. He’s then seen wearing a gas mask while he appears to wait for more officers to arrive.

The gunman continued to fire multiple weapons throughout the morning.

He was ultimately shot and killed by police, one of whom was wounded in the exchange of gunfire.

Late Sunday afternoon, the deputy who lost his life was identified as 29-year-old Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish. He was new to the force, but described as a veteran law enforcement officer. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.

The other injured law enforcement officers have been identified as Deputy Michael Doyle, 28, Deputy Taylor Davis, 30, Deputy Jeffrey Pelle, 32, and Castle Rock Police Officer Tom O’Donnell, 41. All of them are described in stable condition.


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