Home / World News / Douglas County shooting suspect’s family told police he was bipolar, had PTSD, had mental breakdown – The Denver Post

Douglas County shooting suspect’s family told police he was bipolar, had PTSD, had mental breakdown – The Denver Post

Matthew Riehl, the man who shot and killed a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy, was bipolar and had a manic breakdown during the summer, according to a University of Wyoming Police Department report, and family and friends were trying to help get help for him in the weeks leading up to the shooting.

University police began investigating Riehl on Oct. 30 after he posted rambling tirades about the law school’s faculty on a Facebook page he had created. An associate dean at the law school had requested a police presence because Riehl’s posts included a vague reference to shooting someone.

As the university police department was beginning its investigation, Riehl also had drawn attention from the Lone Tree Police Department, which had been in contact with him five times since June 2016 and had asked the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to investigate him after he started sending harassing emails to Lone Tree officers, according to a timeline released Tuesday night.

Police interviewed Riehl’s mother and brother and friends who had served with him in the Wyoming National Guard, and they all reported he was suffering from a mental breakdown.

The Wyoming police report provides a narrative of a man who was suffering from mental illness and who had alienated those closest to him. But his family, friends and police investigators did not find evidence that Riehl, a former lawyer and military veteran, would become violent.

However, police say that Riehl, 37, lured Douglas County law enforcement officers to his Highlands Ranch apartment and ambushed them on New Year’s Eve. The attack killed Deputy Zackari Parrish and wounded four other law enforcement officials and two neighbors. Riehl was killed by police.

Peter Riehl told police his brother had suffered a manic breakdown and had cut off contact with the family for a couple of months, according to a copy of the police report obtained by Denver7.

Susan Riehl, his mother, told police he had moved out of the family home and her recent contact had been through emails, which mostly contained inflammatory statements about her.

“I asked why M. Riehl would make these statements and S. Riehl stated that he was off his medication and was suffering from PTSD from a deployment in 2009,” the report said.

Susan Riehl also told police her son was angry and used his law degree to intimidate people and get his way when people tried to intervene. She described her son as arrogant and wanting to incite people but also said that he had not threatened bodily harm to anyone.

“S. Riehl stated that he felt he was smarter than others and treated confrontation as a game,” the police report said.

Riehl’s last known job was at a Highlands Ranch Walmart, and a supervisor at the store told police that Riehl had walked off the job and filed an unsubstantiated report against Walmart, the Wyoming police report said.

Riehl’s first bipolar episode came several years ago while working as a lawyer in Rawlins, Wyo., and he had sought treatment in a Veterans Administration hospital when it started, his brother told police.

In 2014, Riehl was hospitalized at a veterans mental health facility for a multi-week stay, according to records obtained by The Denver Post. Riehl escaped from the facility during that stay but was brought back.

Leon Chamberlain, a mental health provider in Casper, Wyo., who knew Riehl through the National Guard, told university police that he had worked with Riehl in the past and that Riehl had “down times.” During those times, Riehl would bounce back if he connected with a mental health provider or a friend, Chamberlain told police. Chamberlain also volunteered to drive to Denver if Riehl needed him, the police report said.

“I asked Chamberlain if Riehl had ever threatened violence toward others in the past during his ‘down times’ and Chamberlain advised Riehl was usually more internalized than a threat to anyone else,” an officer wrote in the report. “Chamberlain advised he had never been concerned for others’ safety in the past.”

Later, Chamberlain reached out to Riehl via text message but had to block his number after Riehl began sending gibberish every 30 minutes, the police report said.

“When I received the messages sent from Riehl to Chamberlain there was nothing threatening in them, but they were as Chamberlain described in that they did not make sense,” the officer wrote in his report.

Still, the university police contacted the Lone Tree Police Department to report Riehl’s behavior and ask for a welfare check. Riehl’s mother also said she had asked Lone Tree to help her son, and she asked the university police to help, the report said.

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