By Rick Sallinger
LARAMIE, Wyo. (CBS4) – CBS4 has learned Matthew Riehl’s brother told the University of Wyoming Police Department in November that his brother was bipolar and had suffered a manic breakdown four months earlier.
The statements came as threats made to the law school that Matthew Riehl had attended in 2009.
They included threats to kill now-retired professor John Burman.
Burman told CBS4, “I think the bullets that killed Deputy Parrish were intended for us.”
Riehl’s family told UW police Matthew was not only bipolar and had suffered a manic breakdown recently, but was not taking his medicine.
The Associated Press reports Riehl escaped from the mental health ward of a VA hospital in Wyoming in 2014, but was located and returned, according to a Veterans Affairs document.
Police Chief Mike Samp says they contacted Lone Tree police, who stopped Riehl, but could not take him into custody.
“I was frankly sick to my stomach given the knowledge that we had, the concerns that we had and precautions we had taken,” said Samp.
An email warning with photos of Riehl was sent out in Laramie in early November.
Charles Pelkey was a former classmate of Riehl’s and saw the warning.
“They knew that Matt was a person of interest and potentially violent, but no criminal record and no reason for him to be detained,” said Pelkey.
It was made clear Riehl was having mental issues, but could not be stopped in time despite warnings that came two months ago.
Riehl’s mother explained her son’s issues suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and was off his medication.
Here is a timeline of events provided by the Lone Tree Police Department involving Riehl:
In response to the numerous requests that the Lone Tree Police Department (LTPD) has received regarding its interactions with Copper Canyon shooting suspect Matthew Riehl, here is a timeline of the agency’s interactions with Riehl:
June 9, 2016 – LTPD responded to a family disturbance at a Lone Tree residence where Riehl was in an altercation with his father. Family did not press charges and Riehl left for the night.
February 18, 2017 – Riehl was issued a citation for careless driving for a traffic accident he was involved in.
June 8, 2017 – LTPD conducted a welfare check at a Lone Tree residence when Riehl’s mother asked police to check on him due to concerns over his mental health. Officers spoke to Riehl for almost 14 minutes through a closed door as he would not let them in. He stated repeatedly he was not a danger to himself or others, and officers had no probable cause or information to force the issue. Mental health service information was provided to the suspect and his family, but they denied services offered.
August 16, 2017 – Riehl called in a welfare check stating that his mother and brother made a suicide pact and were a danger to the community. Officers responded to the residence and found this to be untrue. During this visit, LTPD learned from the mother that Riehl had moved out of the house a month prior and was staying in Rawlins, Wyoming. Due to a lack of probable cause, there were no charges filed against Riehl over this incident.
November 10, 2017 – A LTPD officer issued Riehl a speeding ticket in the City of Lone Tree, which resulted in a court summons.
November 14, 2017 – A detective with the University of Wyoming Police Department reached out to LTPD regarding Riehl and social media posts that the suspect had made that were possibly threatening to the university.
During the month of November, the suspect also shared posts on his social media account about a specific LTPD officer and a citation he had received on Nov. 10. His behavior escalated to include harassing e-mails directly to LTPD police officers. Since LTPD confirmed that Riehl now resided at an address in unincorporated Douglas County and his posts directly involved a LTPD officer, LTPD contacted Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) to investigate, and provided all available information and reports regarding Riehl.
Given that this remains an ongoing investigation, additional details may not be available. However, throughout this time period, LTPD has fully collaborated and cooperated with DCSO, the University of Wyoming Police Department, and the suspect’s family on each incident involving Riehl.