WYOMING – The man Sublette County sheriff’s deputies apprehended and transported back to Sweetwater County without incident is now being held on a $1-million cash-only bond.
According to Sgt. Travis Bingham, deputies arrested Matthew R. Culley, 33, on July 15 on an active warrant. Culley is being held in Sweetwater County on nine felony charges that could lead to a lifetime in prison.
Culley, a Green River resident, is being charged with first degree attempted murder, four counts of aggravated assault, felonious restraint, two counts of interference with a peace officer and property destruction after allegedly threatening two minors with a gun and engaging in a shootout with Green River Police Department officers.
Court documents show Sgt. Jesse Nielson with GRPD received a call from a minor identified as C.S., who said he and his brother – identified in court documents as G.S. – were threatened while at a shooting range near FMC Park on June 6.
According to their account, the two went with the intention of trying a new thermal scope when they saw a black Chevrolet Silverado with bright lights parked there. C.S. went over to inform the vehicle’s occupant the pair would only be trying the scope and planned to ask to turn the lights down in case it would interfere with the scope. The vehicle’s occupant did not acknowledge the minor, who then went back to his brother.
After a point, a man identified in documents as Culley left the vehicle to talk to the brothers, at one point saying he had a 9-mm pistol and would “blow both your brains out.” Culley then allegedly pulled a gun and pointed it at the two.
Throughout the encounter, Culley allegedly held one of the boys with the gun pointed inches away. Documents state he allegedly pulled the slide back an inserted a round into the firing chamber, causing a round already in the chamber to eject from the gun.
C.S. said he believed Culley was drunk, as he could small alcohol on his breath.
The two were able to leave the altercation and fire two shots at the range before Culley left. They called Sgt. Nielson to report the incident and description of the vehicle.
Sgt. Nielson noticed a vehicle matching that description while on the phone with C.S. and followed until backup could arrive. With backup, he initiated a traffic stop and stood outside his driver’s side door and commanded Culley to put his hands out the window. At that time, aiding officers took cover. Culley briefly held his hands out the window, recoiled them and started shouting at the officers. Sgt. Nielson and Officer Zachary Owens then moved behind a brick wall near the vehicle, fearing for their safety behind the vehicle, according to a report by the Green River Star.
Culley eventually leaned out of the vehicle and fired a semi-automatic rifle multiple times where the two had been standing. The three officers then moved location and started opening fire.
While waiting for more backup, the three noticed the Silverado move slightly and Culley on the phone. His girlfriend arrived later and parked directly across from the Silverado to pick him up from the vehicle. Officers were then able to detain Culley and his girlfriend.
While searching the vehicle, officers found a loaded Ruger 9-mm handgun and a loaded AR-15 style rifle.
According to the Green River Star, Sgt. Nielson’s vehicle sustained damages in excess of $1,000 while being allegedly shot by Culley.
The attempted murder charge alone carries a potential lifetime prison sentence without parole. The aggravated assault and interference with a peace officer charges each carry maximums of 10 years in prison.