A man early on Sunday fired more than 100 rounds at sheriff’s deputies in Colorado, killing one and injuring four others, before being fatally shot himself in what authorities called an ambush. Two civilians were also injured.
Deputies came under fire almost immediately and were shot “very, very quickly” after entering a suburban Denver apartment and trying to talk with the suspect, who was holed up inside a bedroom, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said.
“They all went down almost within seconds of each other, so it was more of an ambush-type of attack on our officers,” Spurlock said. “He knew we were coming and we obviously let him know that we were there.”
The Douglas County coroner identified the suspect as 37-year-old Matthew Riehl.
A YouTube user named Matthew Riehl on Dec. 13 posted a video saying he wanted to replace Spurlock and railing against the sheriff and other officers in profane, highly personal terms.
Riehl wears an Iraq combat veteran hat in the video.
A US National Guard spokeswoman told KUSA-TV that Riehl served briefly in Iraq.
The wounded deputies tried to pull the fallen officer, Zackari Parrish, out of the line of further gunfire, but were unable to because of their own injuries and only managed to “crawl to safety,” Spurlock said.
The incident began at about 5:15am at Copper Canyon Apartments, a landscaped apartment complex in Highland Ranch, 28km south of Denver.
Authorities had left the home barely an hour earlier in response to a complaint of a “verbal disturbance” involving two men, the sheriff’s office said.
One of the men told them the suspect “was acting bizarre and might be having a mental breakdown,” but the deputies found no evidence of a crime.
When deputies were called back, a man who had left came by to give them a key and granted permission to enter the home, leaving again before shots were fired.
“The suspect was just making a ton of noise and annoying everyone around him,” Spurlock said.
Four officers, including Parrish, were shot from a bedroom around 6am, forcing the retreat.
A SWAT team entered the apartment at about 7:30am in an exchange of gunfire that left the gunman dead and another officer injured.
The suspect was well-known to authorities in the Denver area, but had no criminal record, said Spurlock, who declined to name him until his identity was confirmed.
Riehl said in his YouTube video, called “Fire Sheriff Spurlock,” that he would run as a libertarian, ending with holiday greetings and a vow to “fire all these bums come early next year.”
Riehl is vague about his political beliefs and personal grievances, though his animosity clearly ran deep.
He flashes the business card of an officer who he says shows up at homes after sunset with an attractive woman and “will then ambush you from behind the door.”
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