(DENVER) — A man accused of killing five people in a rampage in Denver is believed to have written fictional books self-published online that named some of his real-life victims and described similar attacks.
According to a Denver police spokesperson, Doug Schepman, the writings form part of an investigation into Lyndon James McLeod’s motives for the shootings that occurred in under one hour at multiple locations throughout the Metro area.
Police have stated that McLeod (47) knew the majority of those he shot via business relationships or personal relationships. The tattoo shops were the target of four people shot. McLeod was also shot to death by a police officer.
In the first novel, written under a pen name of Roman McClay, a character named Lyndon stalks a poker party held by a character named “Michael Swinyard” and gains access to a building near Cheesman Park by posing as a police officer. Then he fatally shot everyone attending the party, robbed them all and fled with his dog in an abandoned van.
In Monday’s attack, Michael Swinyard, 67, was fatally shot at a home near Denver’s Cheesman Park, police said.
McClay also mentions Lyndon in his second novel. In that book, McClay refers to Alicia Cardenas, as a victim. She also mentioned Sol Tribe, her tattoo shop.
Alicia Cardenas, a 44-year-old tattoo artist, was among his first victims in Monday’s rampage. Alyssa gunn, 35, and another woman, were both killed when he attacked their tattoo shop. Police said that a man also injured at the shop is expected to recover. He was identified by friends and customers as Gunn’s husband, James Maldonado, a piercer there.
This shop is just 1.6 km from McLeod’s tattoo parlor, where McLeod was the listed lease holder. According to city records, Cardenas took over the shop before moving it to its present location.
McLeod was not licensed to work as a tattoo artist or operate a tattoo business himself in Denver according to city records, a spokesperson for Denver’s licensing agency, Eric Escudero, said Wednesday.
Cardenas, whose daughter is 12 years old, described herself as a “proud Indigenous artist” who also painted murals.
On Tuesday, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen stated during a press conference that McLeod was being investigated and is on the radar. He also said McLeod would be under investigation in 2021 and 2020. While he did not say for what McLeod was being investigated, Pazen said that he had no plans to press charges against McLeod.
Matt Clark, commander of the Denver Police Department’s Major Crimes Division, said McLeod knew most of the people he targeted but not the last person he shot — a clerk in a hotel in Lakewood’s Belmar shopping area. Clark indicated that McLeod had been in contact with the hotel.
Sarah Steck (28 years old) died Tuesday from her injuries as a hotel clerk.
Steck graduated this year from Metropolitan State University with a bachelor’s degree of fine art in communication design. According to The Denver Post, her infectious laughter and passion for kittens, music and art were well-known among coworkers.
Soon after the shooting at Cardenas’ shop, McLeod forced his way into a residence that is also home to a business. It is licensed to be a tattoo shop according to the city records. Clark claimed that Clark pursued and shot at the occupants, but none were hurt. Clark stated that he then shot and killed Swinyard, near Cheesman Park.
Clark reported that Denver police pursued McLeod’s vehicle, which was believed to be involved in the shootings. Clark claimed an officer then exchanged gunfire. McLeod was able to get away, fleeing into Lakewood, after gunfire disabled the officer’s cruiser, he said.
A report was received by Lakewood Police Department about shots being fired on Lucky 13 tattoo shop just before six p.m. John Romero from Lakewood Police said that Danny Scofield (38), was found dead at the spot.
Scofield is a father to three according to the site that raises money for his family.
When officers spotted the car suspected of being involved in the shooting at the Belmar shopping area — where shops line sidewalks in a modern version of a downtown — McLeod opened fire and officers shot back, Romero said. After threatening some people at a restaurant, McLeod fled, and then went to Hyatt house hotel where he spoke briefly before shooting Steck.
A minute later, Lakewood officer Ashley Ferris noticed McLeod. She ordered him to put his gun down. The gunman shot her in the abdomen, but she fired back at him and killed him.
Ferris had surgery on Monday and will be fully recovered.
“I can’t overemphasize enough the heroic actions of our Lakewood police agent,” Romero said during a news conference Tuesday. “In the face of being shot, in the face of danger, she was able to not only save others from this terrible tragedy but also neutralize the threat.”
This report was contributed by Mead Gruver, an Associated Press journalist.