Colorado cop killer escaped from mental health ward, mother warned police he was suffering from PTSD and not taking medication

The suspect in a deadly ambush that killed a sheriff’s deputy in Colorado on Sunday had previously escaped from a mental health ward, and his own mother had warned local authorties that he was off his medication and likely suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Matthew Riehl, 37, was killed by SWAT team gunfire on Sunday after he opened fire on Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies who responded to a disturbance call at his apartment in Lone Tree. Deputy Zackari Parrish, 29, was killed in the ambush and four other responding officers, along with two unidentified civilians, were injured.

The Denver Post obtained a report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) confirming that Riehl,  a former Wyoming resident who was once a practicing attorney in the state, escaped from a veterans mental health ward in Wyoming in 2014, when he was being treated for an unspecified psychotic episode.

“Office of Security and Law Enforcement reports that during the inpatient stay in April 2014, the Veteran escaped/eloped from the Mental Health Ward, was located and brought back, and placed on a 72 hour mental health hold,” the VA wrote in the report, which was sent to Congress.

After his stay in the mental health ward, Riehl reportedly had two follow-up contacts with with VA mental health professionals, including one marked “urgent,” but skipped a later appointment and declined a follow-up.

Riehl served in Iraq as part of the National Guard from April 2009 to March 2010, according to the Denver Post.

According to ABC 7 Denver, Riehl’s mother Susan Riehl contacted local police sometime before the deadly shooting, saying she was concerned about her son because he was not taking medication to treat what she said was PTSD from his deployment in Iraq.

It is not known exactly when the suspect’s mother was interviewed by police. In the report obtained by the Denver Post, Riehl’s mother reportedly said that the family was not sure exactly where he was, but that he had sent her inflammatory emails. She described her son as arrogant and confrontational, but reportedly said she was not aware of any violent behavior.

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

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Riehl had posted videos on social media critical of Douglas County law enforcement, and claiming he would be running for sheriff. He also livestreamed the moments the sheriff’s deputies arrived at the apartment on Sunday, and what appears to be the sound gunfire can be heard in the recording.


[Feature image: YouTube screenshot/Matthew Riehl]