Police: Denver gunman who killed 5 people targeted some victims
An armed man who engaged in a shooting at multiple locations in the Denver area, killing five people and injuring two, has targeted his victims based on previous personal and business connections, authorities said on Tuesday.
Lyndon James McLeod, 47, was also killed Monday night after shooting at a police officer who confronted him in a busy shopping district in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. The officer managed to retaliate against McLeod, killing him, Lakewood Police spokesperson John Romero said.
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 – an employee of a hotel in the Belmar shopping district in Lakewood. Sarah Steck, 28, who died of her injuries on Tuesday, was apparently targeted because of a dispute with the hotel, not with her, Clark said.
McLeod once owned a business in Denver called Flat Black Ink Corp. at an address that is now World Tattoo Studio, according to Colorado Secretary of State’s office records. A man who answered the phone at World Tattoo Studio hung up after being asked about McLeod on Tuesday night.
The first shooting took place at a tattoo shop within a mile (1.6 km) of this address. Four of the victims, including three dead, were shot at two Denver-area tattoo shops.
Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen told a news conference McLeod was on law enforcement radar and was investigated in 2020 and 2021. He declined to say why McLeod was under investigation, but said no charges have been laid against him.
The shooting began around 5:30 p.m. in central Denver along Broadway, a busy street lined with shops, bars and restaurants, where two women were killed and a man was injured but is expected to survive, police said. Soon after, McLeod forced his way into a house that also housed a nearby business, chased the occupants through the building and fired shots, but no one was injured, Clark said. . Next, a man was shot dead in a house near Denver’s Cheesman Park, he said.
Denver Police later pursued the vehicle allegedly involved in the shooting and an officer exchanged gunfire with McLeod, Clark said. McLeod was able to escape, fleeing into Lakewood, after gunfire disabled the officer’s cruiser, he said.
Just before 6 p.m., the Lakewood Police Department received a report of shots fired at the Lucky 13 tattoo parlor. Danny Schofield, 38, was killed there, Romero said.
When officers spotted the car suspected of being involved in the shooting in the Belmar shopping district – where stores line the sidewalks in a modern version of a downtown area – McLeod opened fire and officers fired back, Romero said. He ran away and allegedly threatened some people in a restaurant with a gun before heading to the Hyatt House, where he spoke briefly to Steck, the clerk, before shooting him, a- he declared.
About a minute later, the Lakewood cop saw McLeod and ordered him to drop his gun. She was shot in the abdomen but fired back at him, Romero said.
The injured officer, whose name has not been released, underwent surgery on Monday evening. She is expected to make a full recovery.
Family members identified one of the other victims on Tuesday as Alicia Cardenas, 44, owner of the Sol Tribe tattoo shop, where the first shooting took place.
Alfredo Cardenas told KMGH-TV that his only daughter owned her first tattoo parlor when she was 19 and worked at the Broadway site in Denver for 15 to 20 years.
“Very sociable, very sympathetic, but he was a very determined person,” he said. “She knew where she was going.
Alicia Cardenas is survived by her 12-year-old child, said Alfredo Cardenas.
On Tuesday, candles, bouquets of flowers and fruit containers rested at the door of Cardenas’ shop as people, including her fiance, Daniel Clelland, stopped to remember a woman they say cared about so many people.
“I don’t know why someone would do this,” Clelland said.
Associated Press photographer David Zalubowski and writer Thomas Peipert contributed to this report.
This version has been updated to correct the spelling of the suspect’s last name and the name of shooting victim Danny Schofield.