Former Wyoming law school dean, targeted by ambush suspect, reacts to deadly rampage

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- John Burman, former dean of the University of Wyoming College of Law, spoke Tuesday about his former student Matthew Riehl -- the man at the center of the New Year’s Eve deadly rampage in Highlands Ranch.

Burman, who taught at the law school full time for 24 years, was the primary target of vulgar and disgusting online posts authored by Riehl.

Those messages surfaced online about two months before Sunday’s shooting.

“I know I had Matt [in class] at least twice,” Burman said.

The former dean is now a part-time professor emeritus at the law school. He suffers from a debilitating disease somewhat similar to multiple sclerosis.

He said he doesn’t remember Riehl but recognized the name when he was the target of the online hate-filled messages.

“It was bad,” Burman said. “I had never been the victim that kind of a threat.”

The messages were threatening in nature. The posts were described as rambling and some made no sense.

“It seemed clear that he was very ill,” Burman said.

The threats targeting Burman and his colleagues prompted university police to increase security at the law school in early November and contact law enforcement in Douglas County.

Even though officials couldn’t predict the New Year’s Eve shooting, Burman said he feels remorse.

“[Matt] needed help and we didn’t give it to him -- and we have paid a huge price,” Burman said.

The Burman family said their hearts go out to deputy Zackari Parrish’s family and everyone impacted by the actions of Riehl.