Law Schools Learn Lessons in Campus Safety After Shootings

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 08, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a way, law school administrators could see it coming.

Two months before Matthew Riehl killed a sheriff's deputy in a mass shooting, he had posted on Facebook that he dreamed about raping a former professor at his law school.

Ten years earlier, when he attended the University of Wyoming law school, faculty had noted he was a good but "troubled" student. Their attention and precautions may have saved lives.

"On the Lookout"

Riehl graduated in 2010 and went into law practice, but suffered from post-traumatic stress after a tour in Iraq. The Denver Post reported he was committed for a psychotic episode in 2014.

After the Facebook posts in November, the law school warned students in an email to be on the lookout. The law school also increased security and warned police.

There was little anybody could do when he opened fire, killing one person and wounding six others. His troubles also ended when he died in the gun fight at his apartment that night.

But the law school executed a plan that helped prevent violence that could have erupted there instead. It is a lesson for others, where tragedies still occur.

Campus Precautions

At California's Hastings College of Law, the school provides van escorts and "walking" escorts to the campus community. It is part of a safety protocol to protect students from sexual assault and other acts of violence.

They may also sign up for WarnMe alerts, which notify users by email and text of imminent threats to life and safety, such as earthquakes or active shooters.

In the event of evacuation, the school's website advises:

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Leave belongings behind
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people
  • Help others escape, if possible

The San Francisco law school and others took precautions after a mass shooting in 1993. A disgruntled client shot and killed eight people at 101 California Street.

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