Douglas County Shootings: Update

Update 1/1/ 3:15 pm MT: The Douglas County Sheriffs Office provides this official timeline. It omits one critical time element: When the officers entered the apartment and how long they interacted with suspect Riehl before he began shooting.

According to the timeline, the officers were shot at 5:56 a.m. The timeline says they got the key and permission from the roommate, who had left the scene but returned, prior to the last officer's arrival at 5:35 a.m. So it was sometime between 5:17 a.m, when the first officer arrived, and 5:35 a.m. when the 4th officer arrived, that they got the key and permission. Did they enter the apartment as soon as the fourth officer arrived? If so, and assuming it took them a minute to open the door and announce their presence, that means they engaged with the suspect inside his apartment for 20 minutes (5:36 a.m. until 5:56 a.m., when they were shot. That would mean they weren't shot as soon as they arrived, and that something may have set him off during the engagement.

Deputies cleared the scene at 3:44 a.m., no crime had been committed at that time. Deputies were called back to the scene at 5:14 a.m. and the first officer arrived on scene at 5:17a.m. Three additional officers also arrived on scene, the last one arriving at 5:35am. One male had left the scene prior to officer’s arrival. The male returned to the scene and gave officers a key and permission to enter the apartment, but then left the scene prior to the shooting. At 5:56 a.m., four officers were hit by rifle rounds from the suspect’s bedroom. Three of the deputies were able to get to safety, however, the fourth officer, Deputy Parrish, was not able to retreat.

Update 9 pm MT: The dead suspect is Matthew Riehl, 37, an Iraq vet with a law degree from the University of Wyoming. [More...]

He practiced with a firm for a while, arguing a case before the Wyoming Supreme Court. He then opened his own office. He apparently withdrew his name from the roll of registered attorneys in August, 2017.

His You Tube channel has videos with rants against the Sheriff's Dept for a traffic stop. In one video I watched, now deleted, he says he's going to run against the current Sheriff. He's wearing a Libertarian hat, but he's not a registered Libertarian according to someone from that party. I read one report that the Douglas County Sheriff's tried to have him held on a mental health hold at some point (which probably explains the contacts with various law enforcement agencies but no criminal history.) In another video, he is playing with a Yo-Yo. He's pretty obviously mentally disturbed.

The military says he was honorably discharged.

Original Post: Noon, MST

I watched the Douglas County Sheriff's noon press conference on this morning's shootings in a Highlands Ranch apartment complex in which one Sheriff's Deputy was shot and killed, four others shot and injured, and two civilians injured.

Some news articles are continuing to misreport the details provided by the Sheriff.

What the Sheriff said:

  • It was not a domestic violence disturbance but a noise disturbance. Although the first 911 call they received from a neighbor led them to believe it was a domestic violence incident, when police got there they quickly figured out it was not. It was a noise disturbance. The suspect was making a lot of noise and disturbing everyone around him.
  • There were two people in the apartment who were male roommates -- they were not a couple or partners. The roommate was not injured.
  • One of the two, the suspect or the roommate, answered the door and let the police in. The police could tell there was some kind of unfortunate circumstance in the apartment and began investigating and speaking to both of them.
  • The police were not shot instantly upon arriving. They "responded to the residence" at 5:14 a.m. After the police got into the apartment, they briefly engaged the suspect in conversation. Then the suspect barricaded himself in one of the bedrooms and began shooting. He had a rifle and shot more than 100 rounds. (The Sheriff referred to this as an "ambush".)
  • The suspect was known to law enforcement in Douglas and surrounding metro areas but had no prior criminal history.
  • The officers were all wearing bullet-proof vests. The first officer, Zackari Parrish, 29, was shot several times. The other four who were shot went down almost simultaneously -- and could not get to Parrish to drag him away because of their injuries and the suspect was still shooting. They managed to crawl away. They were either shot in areas the vest didn't cover or outside the coverage area. (not sure what the difference is between those.) One of the officers was female.
  • There were no hostages
  • A regional Swat Team came and that is who killed the suspect.
  • The roommate is not a suspect and has been cooperating fully. He is not one of the civilians injured.
  • There had also been a disturbance call about the apartment around 1:30 a.m. but when police got there, there was no noise.

The Sheriff said they respond to all incidents as if the person will have a gun. "This is Colorado. Everybody has a gun."

The Sheriff was clearly upset. He said this was his first loss of a deputy on duty since he became sheriff.

Highlands Ranch is a master-planned community about 20 miles South of Denver. The eastern part is in Douglas County (principal city is Castle Rock) and the Western part is in Arapahoe County. Here is the website for the apartment complex.

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  • Display: Sort:
    It appears... (none / 0) (#1)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun Dec 31, 2017 at 07:47:25 PM EST
    that police had responded to the address earlier in the morning (3am) on a report of "verbal disturbence between two males" but cleared out at 3:40 am because "no crime had been committed". We'll see if that played a part in the shootings.

    Also, I don't understand why Castle Rock police responded to the scene. The CR officer appears to be one of the first four that responded. SWAT didn't show up until 7:30, so it doesn't seem he was part of that.

    so much for gun control (none / 0) (#2)
    by thomas rogan on Thu Jan 04, 2018 at 03:41:16 PM EST
    So much for gun control...

    Fix the mental health system and increase prison sentences for any crime that uses a gun.

    There is no evidence whatsoever (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Peter G on Thu Jan 04, 2018 at 07:57:26 PM EST
    that increasing sentences (either authorized sentences, or sentences imposed, whichever it was that you meant) has any effect on criminal behavior in society, in the aggregate. Certainly, young men experiencing mental breakdowns will not be deterred from shooting at cops by judges' increasing the average sentence imposed on convenience-store robbers, for example.

    Well, had this guy done his full sentence (none / 0) (#5)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jan 05, 2018 at 05:05:04 PM EST
    instead of being released after only two years, our society would certainly have had at least one less criminal behavior.

    Gang member arrested for killing sheriff's deputy with single punch after car crash


    Or he might've come out later (none / 0) (#6)
    by jondee on Sun Jan 07, 2018 at 10:15:53 AM EST
    from whatever inhumane sh*t hole he was sent to, and done something even worse.

    Oh yeah. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Chuck0 on Fri Jan 05, 2018 at 10:19:43 AM EST
    Cause threatening crazy people with jail is SOOOO effective.