Police: Denver gunman who killed 5 targeted some victims | US News®


By COLLEEN SLEVIN, Associated Press

DENVER (AP) – An armed man who rioted in multiple locations in the Denver area, killing five people and wounding two, targeted his victims based on previous personal and business dealings, authorities said.

Lyndon James McLeod, 47, was also killed Monday night after shooting a police officer who confronted him in a busy shopping district in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. The police officer managed to shoot back McLeod and kill him, Lakewood police spokesman John Romero said on Tuesday.

Matt Clark, commander of the Denver Police Department’s Major Crimes Division, said the shooter knew most of his victims, but not the last person he shot – a clerk at a hotel in Lakewood’s Belmar shopping district. Sarah Steck, 28, who died Tuesday of her injuries, was apparently targeted over an argument with the hotel, not her, Clark said.

McLeod once owned a business in Denver called Flat Black Ink Corp. with an address that is now World Tattoo Studio, according to Colorado State Department records. A man who answered the phone at the World Tattoo Studio hung up after being asked about McLeod Tuesday night.

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The first shoot took place in a tattoo shop less than a mile from this address. Four of the victims, including three dead, were shot dead in two tattoo shops in the Denver area.

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said during a news conference that McLeod was on law enforcement radar and had been investigated in both 2020 and 2021. He declined to say why McLeod was being investigated, but said no charges were brought against him.

The shootings began around 5:30 p.m. in downtown Denver on Broadway, a busy street with shops, bars, and restaurants where two women were killed and one man injured but is expected to survive, police said. Shortly after, McLeod broke into a house that was also a store, chased residents around the building, and fired gunshots, but no one was injured, Clark said. Then a man was shot dead in a house near Denver’s Cheesman Park, he said.

Denver police later tracked the vehicle believed to be involved in the shootings and an officer exchanged shots with McLeod, Clark said. McLeod escaped and escaped to Lakewood after gunfire disabled the officer’s cruiser, he said.

Just before 6 p.m., Lakewood police received a report of shots fired at the Lucky 13 tattoo shop. Danny Schofield, 38, was killed there, Romero said.

When officials discovered the car suspected of being involved in the shootings in the Belmar shopping district – where shops line the sidewalks in a modern version of a downtown area – McLeod opened fire and officials shot back, Romero said. He ran away and allegedly threatened some people in a restaurant with a gun before going to the Hyatt House hotel, where he spoke briefly to clerk Steck before shooting them, he said.

About a minute later, the Lakewood officer saw McLeod and ordered him to drop his gun. She was shot in the abdomen, but shot at him, Romero said.

The wounded officer, whose name was not disclosed, was operated on Monday evening. She is expected to make a full recovery.

Family members identified one of the other victims Tuesday as Alicia Cardenas, 44, the owner of the Sol Tribe tattoo shop, where the first shots took place.

Alfredo Cardenas told KMGH-TV that his only daughter owned her first tattoo shop at 19 and had worked on Broadway in Denver for 15 to 20 years.

“Very sociable, very friendly, but she was a very determined person,” he said. “She knew where she was going.”

Alicia Cardenas is survived by her 12-year-old, said Alfredo Cardenas.

On Tuesday there were candles, bouquets of flowers and some fruit containers in the doorway of Cardenas’ shop when people, including her fiancé Daniel Clelland, stopped by to remember a woman they said she cares for so many.

“I don’t know why anyone would do that,” said Clelland.

Associated Press photographer David Zalubowski and author Thomas Peipert contributed to this report.

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