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Crime and Courts

Gunman in Denver-area shooting spree that left 5 dead targeted victims, was known to law enforcement

The suspect was identified as 47-year-old Lyndon James Mcleod. He died after exchanging gunfire with a Lakewood Police Department officer.

Investigators chart evidence from a window outside an Xfinity store Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Denver Lakewood, Colo., one of the scenes of a shooting spree that left several people dead—including the suspected shooter Monday evening—and left a few more people wounded. The spree spread from the core of Denver to the western suburb of Lakewood where the suspect was shot and killed by police near a busy intersection in a bustling shopping district. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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A gunman who killed five people in a shooting spree in Denver and Lakewood on Monday night targeted his victims and was known to law enforcement, police said Tuesday.

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The suspect was identified as 47-year-old Lyndon James Mcleod. He died after exchanging gunfire with a Lakewood Police Department officer who was wounded.

“This individual was on the radar of law enforcement,” Denver police Chief Paul Pazen said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Pazen said Mcleod was investigated by police in the middle of 2020 and early 2021, but no charges were filed. He didn’t elaborate on the nature of the investigations.

“We can’t get into any of the details,” Pazen said. “It would not be responsible for us to share those details now.”

Pazen said the prior investigations “will be part of this ongoing investigation into this violent crime spree that took place.”

Three of the people killed in the spree were identified on Tuesday. They were:

  • Alicia Cardenas, 44, the owner of Denver tattoo shop Sol Tribe
  • Danny Scofield, 38, who was killed at Lucky 13 Tattoo in Lakewood
  • Sarah Steck, 28, who was killed at the Hyatt House hotel in the Belmar shopping center in Lakewood. She worked as a front-desk receptionist at the hotel.

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Denver police Cmdr. Matt Clark said the shootings don’t appear to be random.

“It does appear that the offender was targeting specific people in this case,” Clark said. “The victims were known to the offender.”

Mcleod had a business or personal relationship with the victims, authorities said. The suspect was linked to the Hyatt House hotel, but wasn’t necessarily acquainted with Steck. “There was previous interactions with that hotel,” Clark said, “not necessarily that clerk.”

Steck’s death was announced Tuesday. Police initially said that only four people had been killed in the spree.

Pazen said Tuesday that it was too soon to release a motive.

Four of the five people killed in the shootings either worked at or were near tattoo parlors when they were slain.

A pedestrian casts an eye at a sheet of plywood covering a window of a pizza parlor Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Lakewood, near one of the scenes of a shooting spree that left several people dead—including the suspected shooter Monday evening—and left a few more people wounded. The spree spread from the core of Denver to the western suburb of Lakewood where the suspect was shot and killed by police near a busy intersection in a bustling shopping district. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Public records show that Mcleod owned a company called Flat Black Ink at 246 W. Sixth Ave.,  a location at the corner of West Sixth Avenue and Cherokee Street currently occupied by World Tattoo Studio. Police say Mcleod fired shots in that area while chasing two people, but no one was injured. A vehicle was also set on fire near the intersection.

Flat Black Ink was deemed delinquent by the Colorado Secretary of State in 2017.

Alfredo Cardenas told KMGH-TV that Alicia Cardenas, his only daughter, owned her first tattoo shop when she was 19. She owned Sol Tribe Tattoo and had worked at the location near the intersection of West 1st Avenue and Broadway, where the shooting spree began, for 15 to 20 years.

Bianca Mikahn pays her respects at Sol Tribe Tattoo on Dec. 28, 2021. Alicia Cardenas, owner of Sol Tribe Tattoo on Broadway, was among at least five who were pronounced dead after a shooting spree in Denver on Monday evening. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

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

Alicia Cardenas is survived by her child, who is 12, Alfredo Cardenas said.

Friends and family said on both social media and through a GoFundMe that fellow Sol Tribe tattoo artist Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado was also killed, while her husband — Sol Tribe piercer Jimmy Maldonado — was wounded.

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Sol Tribe is well respected in Denver. Several neighboring business, including Mutiny Information Cafe and Femme Fatale, decided to close Tuesday following the shooting.

The one victim killed in the spree who has yet to be identified was shot at a home on the 1200 block of Williams Street in Denver, near Cheesman Park. Authorities have only said that the victim is a man.

A Lakewood police officer who was shot by the suspect is expected to survive. She was shot in the abdomen and had undergone surgery. “She will need more surgeries,” said John Romero, a spokesman for the Lakewood Police Department.

Two weapons were recovered by investigators, but authorities declined to say the type.

The spree began with the shooting at or near Sol Tribe at 5:25 p.m. It ended about two hours later with the shootout in Lakewood near the intersection of West Alaska Drive and South Vance Street, in the Belmar retail district.

Here is a timeline of the spree:

  • Denver police were summoned at 5:25 p.m. to a shooting at a business near the intersection of West 1st Avenue and Broadway. Police did not identify the business, but Sol Tribe is nearby. Two women were killed — Cardenas and Gunn-Maldonado — and a man, presumably Jimmy Maldonado, was wounded. The man was in critical condition Tuesday but expected to survive.
  • At 5:31 p.m., police were called to a burglary in the area of West 6th Avenue and Cherokee Street. The gunman broke into a combination business/residence there and “pursued the occupants through the residence,” Clark said. Gunshots were fired at the occupants, but no one was hurt. A van was set on fire behind the business/residence.
  • At 5:45 p.m., police received a report of a shooting on the 1200 block of Williams Street, on the north side of Cheesman Park. An unidentified man was shot and killed “just inside of his residence,” Clark said.
  • At about 5:49 p.m., Denver police officers located the suspect’s vehicle near the intersection of West 13th Avenue and Zuni Street. There was a pursuit and a shootout. No officers were hurt, but police couldn’t follow the suspect because their vehicle was disabled.
  • At 5:58 p.m., the gunman entered the Lucky 13 Tattoo Parlor in Lakewood, at 1550 Kipling St., and fatally shot Scofield
  • At 6:04 p.m., Lakewood police officers spotted the suspect’s van. When they tried to stop him, the suspect opened fire and was able to escape.
  • At 6:10 p.m., the gunman killed Steck at the Hyatt House.
  • The suspect fled on foot in the Belmar shopping center and was confronted by a Lakewood police officer. The officer was wounded in a shootout and the suspect was killed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.