‘It’s a shock’: Colorado police ID shooter who killed 5 people in Denver-area shooting spree

Written by on December 28, 2021

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Colorado capturing spree: suspect was on police’s ‘radar’

Alicia Cardenas, 44, Danny Schofield, 38, and Sarah Steck, 28, had been among the many 5 folks killed in a string of assaults in Denver and Lakewood.

STAFF VIDEO, USA TODAY

DENVER — Alfredo Cardenas went to his daughter’s tattoo store Tuesday morning and lit a candle to recollect her life. Alicia Cardenas, 44, was among the many 5 folks killed Monday night time after an individual opened hearth in a number of places within the Denver space. 

“It’s a shock,” Cardenas informed USA TODAY outdoors the Sol Tribe tattoo store on Broadway. 

Cardenas; Danny Schofield, 38; and Sarah Steck, 28, had been amongst the 5 folks killed by the shooter. Police didn’t launch the identities of the opposite two deadly victims. The shooter, Lyndon James McLeod, 47, was additionally killed in a gunfight with police. Two others, together with a police officer whose identification has not but been launched, had been injured within the shootings, Denver and Lakewood police mentioned at a joint press convention Tuesday.

The “very violent collection of occasions” throughout a number of places started in Denver on Monday night and led to close by Lakewood, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen at a press convention late Monday.

The victims at and close to the tattoo retailers had been beforehand identified to the shooter, police mentioned Tuesday. McLeod additionally had earlier interactions with the Hyatt resort the place he shot and killed Steck, who was a clerk there.

Surveillance video offered by a close-by enterprise proprietor to USA TODAY and brought Monday night time reveals a dark-colored van pulling up outdoors Fortunate 13 in Lakewood, one in all 5 identified capturing places. A person who gave the impression to be carrying a firearm steps out of the van, leaving the door open and the engine apparently working and walks calmly into the tattoo store. He walks out 10 seconds later, climbs into the van and drives away.

By Tuesday morning, there have been few indicators of the earlier night’s violence: a bullet gap within the window casing of an Xfinity retailer and boarded up home windows at a close-by restaurant in Lakewood. A couple of companies posted indicators saying they had been quickly closed, and a stream of individuals crunched on an occasional piece of damaged glass as they entered a yoga studio for a morning class.

On the tattoo store in Denver, folks started gathering Tuesday to mourn and go away flowers at a memorial. Alfredo Cardenas mentioned his 12-year-old granddaughter was along with her father and doesn’t but perceive what occurred. 

“She’s going want loads of love and compassion,” he mentioned.

A minimum of two of the opposite shootings happened at or close to tattoo retailers, in line with the addresses offered by police, together with Fortunate 13 in Lakewood. Jake Bray, 37, who works at Suppose Tank Tattoo, close to Sol Tribe, mentioned the neighborhood worries the shooter intentionally focused tattoo retailers.

“It’s scary to assume,” mentioned Bray, whose store was closed Monday. “Everybody sort of is aware of everybody. It’s tragic. It’s exhausting. We take into account our neighborhood a household.” 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis mentioned in an announcement that he was “deeply disturbed” by the violence.

“Tragedies like this, particularly within the midst of the vacations, are deeply unsettling,” Polis mentioned. “My administration is working with native legislation enforcement to grasp what occurred final night and supply the wanted help all through the investigation.”

This is what we all know:

Six folks died, together with the shooter, authorities mentioned. Two folks had been injured, together with a police officer.

Alicia Cardenas, one of many victims, was a tattooer, mural artist and cultural anthropologist, in line with the Sol Tribe web site. The web site describes the store proprietor as a “true Denver Native” and a “proud Indigenous artist.”

Dozens of individuals posted on-line tributes for Cardenas, describing her as a power of nature and a beloved pioneer on this planet of tattooing. “She accepted all people, particularly these on the fringes,” her dad informed USA TODAY.

Denver resident Patrick Anderson, 50, described Cardenas as a sensible pal who hosted a Dia de Los Muertos ceremony yearly. “She is without doubt one of the wisest and most caring people I’ve ever met,” Anderson informed USA TODAY.

Schofield, one other sufferer, was a tattoo artist and Colorado native, in line with the Fortunate 13 Tattoo and Piercing web site. He had been tattooing for about 15 years, in line with the positioning. He was often known as Dano Blair.

On Tuesday afternoon, Annie Bagford and her husband sipped Monster vitality drinks outdoors the Fortunate 13 tattoo parlor In Lakewood, tears rolling down their cheeks. Bagford mentioned Schofield cherished Monster, so that they got here to his store to share one final drink, as a candle flickered within the afternoon solar.

Schofield leaves behind three younger kids, mentioned Bagford, exhibiting off her tattoos he’d crafted over time. Bagford met Schofield by means of his sister in highschool.

“I’m simply so indignant,” Bagford mentioned.

“Danny by no means did mistaken to anyone. He didn’t should be shot. It is unnecessary. It’s simply simply so unfair to his youngsters, to his household.”

Steck, who labored on the Hyatt, died from her accidents Tuesday within the hospital, police mentioned.

“A horrible, heartbreaking and mindless act of gun violence stole the lives of a number of members of our neighborhood final night time and injured others,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock mentioned in an announcement. “I’m praying for these lives misplaced, the victims and their households.”

The “killing spree” started simply after 5 p.m. in Denver, Pazen mentioned. At a primary location, the attacker fatally shot two girls and injured a person, he mentioned. At a second capturing location, the assailant fatally shot a person.

There was gunfire at a 3rd location, however nobody was injured, Pazen mentioned.

Pazen mentioned officers recognized a automobile related to the shooter and exchanged gunfire with them at a fourth location. Pazen mentioned the shooter disabled the police automobile and fled to the close by suburb of Lakewood.

Lakewood police obtained a name of photographs fired at a enterprise simply earlier than 6 p.m., and the sufferer was pronounced useless, mentioned police spokesman John Romero.

Lakewood brokers recognized the shooter’s automobile, however McLeod began capturing on the brokers and left on foot, Romero mentioned.

The attacker then threatened one other enterprise with a firearm earlier than coming into a Hyatt resort and capturing the clerk, Steck, who was taken to a hospital, he mentioned. She died Tuesday.

The attacker left, capturing a Lakewood police agent within the course of. The Lakewood agent, a girl who was not recognized, continued to fireplace on the suspect after being shot. She shot and killed McLeod, Romero mentioned.

Authorities haven’t introduced McLeod’s motive, however mentioned he had some connection to all of his victims.

Pazen additionally mentioned McLeod was beforehand on police’s radar, with two investigations into incidents from mid-2020 and early 2021. Pazen mentioned neither investigation resulted in felony expenses, and wouldn’t give additional particulars about these incidents.

“This isn’t an unknown occasion to us,” Pazen mentioned.

A tattoo business connection to McLeod’s capturing rampage appears doubtless, with the proprietor of a tattoo studio working from the positioning of a one-time McLeod enterprise saying he bought the place from Alicia Cardenas.

World Tattoo Studio proprietor Ian Lütz mentioned he had by no means heard of McLeod earlier than he was recognized by police because the shooter. Based on Colorado state enterprise information, McLeod was the proprietor of Flat Black Ink, a Denver enterprise that opened in 2005, was declared delinquent in 2017 and was listed as having a reputation change in 2018.

World Tattoo now operates on the identical Denver tackle that was listed for Flat Black Ink.

“Yeah, I’ve no prior information of actually the historical past of the store earlier than my proudly owning it. I do know that Alicia owned it and it was kind of a secondary Sol Tribe,” Lütz informed USA TODAY. “That is about all I do know concerning the historical past of it. I’ve had the store for about four-and-a-half years now.”

This was the 13th mass capturing in Colorado this 12 months, in line with the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks gun violence nationally utilizing a mixture of police statistics and media stories.

The archive defines a mass capturing as 4 or extra folks shot, not together with the shooter, on the identical basic time and placement. Within the U.S., there have been almost 700 mass shootings in 2021, in line with the archive.

Contributing: Invoice Keveney and Celina Tebor, USA TODAY.


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