DENVER – Investigators on Wednesday were investigating what motivated a 47 year old man continue a deadly shooting in the Denver area On Monday, addressed to several people he knew in and near tattoo parlors, among other places.
Six people, including the shooter, were killed in the shootings in Denver and nearby Lakewood, authorities said. Two people were injured, including a police officer.
Tattoo artist Alyssa Gunn, 35; Alicia Cárdenas, 44; and Danny Schofield, 38; hotel clerk Sarah Steck, 28; and Michael Swinyard, 67, were killed by the shooter. Authorities did not reveal the identities of the police officer and the man injured in the shooting. The shooter was killed in a shootout with the police.
Shooter, identified Tuesday by police, had “personal” or “business” relationships with nearly all of the victims, Matt Clark, Denver police commander of the Major Crimes Division, said at a joint news conference Tuesday night. “It looks like the offender was targeting specific people in this case,” Clark said.
The man had been on law enforcement radar and officers investigated him twice, police said. When asked if the man was acting alone, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen told reporters that the man was no longer a threat to the community.
During the Monday night shooting, the shooter opened fire at three locations in or near tattoo parlors, according to directions provided by law enforcement. It was not immediately clear if the man pointed to the hotel receptionist; he had “prior interactions with the hotel” but not with Steck, specifically, Clark said.
According to public records, the gunman previously owned a Denver business called Flat Black Ink. A company with the same name published a series of three books in which a main character by the name of the gunman brutally murders people inside a tattoo parlor on the same street as one of the shops where a shooting took place on Monday. The character murders a man named Michael Swinyard and a woman named Alicia Cardenas.
“We will continue to review videos and witness statements and information to shore up the schedules, to review previous investigations, as well as any additional information to try to establish a motive, a motive that was a wave of violent killings in the metropolitan area during the Christmas season. “Pazen said.
This is what we know:
The “complex series of incidents” began after 5 pm Monday in Denver, Clark said.
The man shot dead two women and wounded a man inside Sol Tribe Tattoo & Piercing, Clark said. Officers responded to a 911 call about the shooting and discovered the two women inside the store and the injured man nearby, Clark said. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition and is expected to survive, Clark said.
Minutes later, at an address at or near another tattoo parlor, World Tattoo Studio, the man shot people inside a hybrid business-residence, but no one was injured, Clark said. The man then set fire to a pickup truck in the alley behind the business, Clark said.
Police received a call about the shooting, then minutes later, after the shooter fatally shot a man near a residence, Clark said. Officers located the man minutes later and exchanged shots, but the man disabled the officers’ car and hit the road, Clark said.
The man drove to Lakewood and shot and killed Danny Schofield inside the Lucky 13 tattoo parlor, Lakewood police spokesman John Romero said.
Surveillance video provided by a business owner close to USA TODAY and taken Monday night shows a dark-colored van pulling up in front of the Lucky 13. A man who appeared to be carrying a firearm exits the van, leaving the door open and apparently the engine. running and calmly enters the tattoo shop. He leaves 10 seconds later, gets in the truck and drives away.
SHOT IN BURLINGTON STORE:A Los Angeles officer was told to “ slow down ” before they shot, killing a 14-year-old girl
Romero said Lakewood police officers later found the man’s vehicle near or in Wells Fargo in a busy business district, and the man and officers exchanged shots before the man fled. The man then entered a nearby restaurant, where he threatened people with a weapon, but did not shoot or injure anyone, Romero said.
The man came around the corner from the nearby Hyatt House hotel, walked in, had a “short conversation” with the receptionist, Sarah Steck, and shot him multiple times, Romero said.
Less than two minutes later, the man was walking through a mall when he encountered a Lakewood police officer, who was alone. The man shot the officer in the abdomen and she fatally shot him, Romero said.
“I cannot emphasize enough the heroic actions of our Lakewood police officer. In the face of being shot, in the face of danger, she was able not only to save others from this terrible tragedy, but also to neutralize the threat,” Romero said. .
Four of the victims were shot inside tattoo shops.
Alicia Cárdenas, one of the victims, was a tattoo artist, mural artist and cultural anthropologist who owns Sol Tribe Tattoo & Piercing, according to the store’s website. The website describes Cárdenas as a “true native of Denver” and a “proud indigenous artist.”
Cárdenas’s father, Alfredo Cárdenas, went to his daughter’s tattoo shop on Tuesday and lit a candle to remember his life. He told USA TODAY that he was in “shock.” Cárdenas is survived by his 12-year-old son, Alfredo Cárdenas said.
Alyssa Gunn was also fatally shot inside Sol Tribe. Her husband, James Maldonado, works at the store as a piercer, according to the store’s website.
Danny Schofield, another victim, was a tattoo artist and a native of Colorado, according to the Lucky 13 Tattoo and Piercing website. He had been tattooing for about 15 years, according to the site. He was also known as Dano Blair.
Schofield leaves behind three young children, said her friend Annie Bagford, showing off her tattoos that she had drawn up over the years. “I’m so mad,” Bagford said. “Danny never hurt anyone. He didn’t deserve to be shot. It doesn’t make sense. It’s so unfair to his children, to his family.”
Sarah Steck, who worked at the Hyatt, was taken to the hospital Monday and died of her injuries Tuesday, police said.
Michael Swinyard was killed at his home near Denver’s Cheesman Park.
The injured officer was a three-year veteran of the department, Romero said. He had surgery and will need more surgeries, but is in stable condition, he said. The officer’s family was traveling to Colorado and his identity would be made public later, Romero said.
Authorities identified the attacker as Lyndon James McLeod, 47. They have not announced shooter motive, but said he had some connection to all of his victims.
Officers investigated the man twice from mid-2020 to early 2021. Pazen said none of the investigations resulted in criminal charges and did not elaborate on those incidents.
“This is not an unknown part of us,” Pazen said.
MICHIGAN SCHOOL SHOT ‘EGREGIOUS’:The suspect’s parents are charged. That’s rare, experts say.
World Tattoo Studio owner Ian Lütz said he had never heard of McLeod before police identified him. According to Colorado state business records, he was the owner of Flat Black Ink, a Denver business that opened in 2005, was declared delinquent in 2017, and was listed with a name change in 2018.
World Tattoo now operates out of the same Denver address that was listed on Flat Black Ink.
“Yes, I have no prior knowledge of the history of the store before owning it. I know that Alicia was the owner and she was kind of a secondary Sun Tribe,” Lütz told USA TODAY. “That’s all I know about its history. I have had the workshop for about four and a half years.”
According to an Amazon listing, Flat Black Ink Corp. published a series of three books beginning in 2018. The books, with a character named Lyndon, describe a scene eerily similar to Monday’s shooting spree.
Contribution: Bill Keveney, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism