Multiple deputies were wounded along with two civilians as they responded to a domestic disturbance call near Denver on New Year’s Eve. The suspect has been named as Matthew Riehl, 37. He was later shot dead as law enforcement searched for him in the early hours of December 31. According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were responding to a shots fired call at the Copper Canyon apartments in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, about 20 miles south of downtown Denver at around 6:30 a.m. The complex is located at 3403 East County Line Road. The shooter was first identified by ABC Denver’s Tony Kovaleski.
Deputies were fired upon by Riehl. The resulting search for the suspect led to a “Code Red” being issued in the area with local residents put on lockdown. SWAT teams and the bomb squad were deployed in the area, causing chaos and leading to displaced residents being held in an emergency shelter.
Here’s what you need to know about the man who opened fire on sheriff’s deputies on New Year’s Eve:
1. Riehl Appeared in a Video December 2017 Titled, ‘Fire Sheriff Spurlock’
On December 13, 2017, Matthew Riehl identified himself as a libertarian candidate for the Douglas County Sheriff’s position in a YouTube video. The video is titled, “Fire Sheriff Spurlock.” In the clip, Riehl refers to Deputy Brian Briggs of the sheriff’s department as a “pimp.” Riehl, wearing an Iraqi Freedom Veteran hat, says that Deputy Briggs is a “pimp in the field.” Riehl describes a story involving a woman he had arranged to meet but prior to doing so was “ambushed” by Briggs. In addition, NBC Denver’s Anastasiya Bolton reports that Riehl “exchanged angry tweets” with the sheriff’s office.
The other videos on Riehl’s YouTube channel largely involve him playing various video games where he went by the online moniker “Cow_Poke_Ulysses.” In one video, Riehl complains about the 2009 U.S. government of the motor industry.
2. Riehl’s Facebook Page Is Littered With 4Chan & Alt-Right References
Riehl went by the name Matt Gonzo on Facebook. His page is littered with references to Pepe the Frog Another group of photos from 2017 shows Riehl traveling in New York City.
The above photo was posted by Riehl on November 4, 2016. A January 2017 post mocked the idea of diversity. Among Riehl’s Likes are Tucker Carlson, various rap, jazz and punk bands and Milo Yiannopoulos.
3. Riehl Was Honorably Discharged From the U.S. Army Reserve in 2012
NBC Denver’s Kyle Clark reports that Riehl did a tour of Iraq in 2009 until 2010. In 2012, Riehl was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army reserve after joining in 2003. Clark later reported that while in Iraq, Riehl’s duty were mainly in security. At the time of his discharge, Riehl was an E4, one of the junior ranks in the U.S. Army.
4. Riehl Was a Law Graduate From the University of Wyoming
KGWN reported that Riehl was a student at the University of Wyoming. The station says the suspect made the Dean’s List in 2008 before graduating in 2010. Online records show that Riehl was a practicing lawyer in Rawlins, Wyoming. According to his LinkedIn page, Riehl set up his own legal practice in the town in 2014. NBC Denver’s Kyle Clark reports that the University of Wyoming has been investigating online rants Riehl has been making against law professors at the school.
5. Authorities Described the Shooting as an ‘Ambush’
In a press conference, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said that Riehl was known to police. Sheriff Spurlock described the attack as an “ambush” saying, “He knew we were coming.” In total, Riehl fired 100 plus rounds at the responding officers. Authorities were called to the scene by a neighbor. NBC Denver reports that Riehl’s roommate, who was not injured in the shooting, was co-operating with authorities.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office says that one of their deputies was tragically killed by Riehl. Shortly after the deputy’s passing was announced, a funeral precession left Littleton Adventist Hospital. He has been named as Zach Parrish, 29. Sheriff Spurlock said, “Zack was a good kid. A smiley kid. You’d go up and down the hall and see his face. He loved to serve.” Parrish left a job in banking to go into law enforcement. Parrish had been a student of Arapahoe Community College Law Enforcement Academy where he graduated as vice president of his class. He had worked in Douglas County for seven months. Deputy Parrish is survived by his wife and their two young children. A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help his family through this difficult time.
One resident of the apartment complex, Steven Silknitter, was working elsewhere at the time of the shooting. He told the Denver Post that when he heard about the attack he immediately called his fiancee who was at their home. Silknitter said, “She was pretty scared. She kept saying how loud it was.” He also said that he lived in Aurora at the time of the movie theater shooting in 2012.
The Denver Post reports that three of the wounded were taken to Skyridge Medical Center in Lone Tree. Those three had non-life threatening injuries. The civilians all have non-life threatening injuries. The wounded officers have been named as Mike Doyle, 28, Taylor Davis, 30, Jeff Pelle, 32 and Tom’Donnell, 41.
KDVR reported that the Littleton Adventist Hospital said they received four patients as a result of the shooting. Their conditions were not immediately released. Colorado Public Radio’s Allison Sherry reports that those in the Littleton hospital were two deputies and one neighbor of Riehl who has a wound in his elbow from a stray bullet.
You can donate to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office fallen officer fund here.
Donald Trump has tweeted his condolences to those were shot during the attack. The president wrote, “My deepest condolences to the victims of the terrible shooting in Douglas County @DCSheriff, and their families. We love our police and law enforcement – God Bless them all! #LESM.” LESM stands for Law Enforcement Social Media. In a statement, U.S. Senator for Colorado Cory Gardner said in a statement, “My heart breaks for all of those affected by the terrible tragedy in Douglas County. Our hearts go out to the family of the deputy who was fatally wounded. Our law enforcement officers work tirelessly every day to keep our communities safe and today all of Colorado stands with our law enforcement community.”
In late 2016, Sheriff Pelle said in an interview when asked about the safety concerns of being in law enforcement, “I’ve got a son doing this work. He’s in a different county, but when your kids are involved, your awareness and concern rise to a new level. Plus, I’ve got 225 deputies that I care for greatly and worry about all the time.” Sheriff Joe Pelle has two children with his wife, Stephanie, Jeff and a daughter named Shanna.
Deputy Jeff Pelle’s wife, Kendra, works at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Joe Pelle wrote on Facebook that his son is “walking and talking” after being shot. The sheriff said, “Jeff is finishing surgery. We don’t know about injuries except bullet went into shoulder and down through stomach. Good news is that he was talking and walked out to ambulance under his own power.”
The Copper Canyon Apartments.com page refers to it as “one of the friendliest communities in Highlands Ranch, Colorado and surround yourself with beautiful landscaping, comfortable homes, and thoughtful amenities.” The complex contains 222 units across two stories. One bedroom apartments range from $1,236 to $3,213 while a four bedroom apartment goes for up to $4,079 per month.