Denver public safety officials have yet to complete an investigation into how they handled prior warnings about a man who “may commit a terrorist attack” a year after that man killed five people on a vengeful shooting spree across Denver and Lakewood.
Denver police officials launched an investigation after the Dec. 27, 2021, killings to review how they handled tips they received about the gunman, Lyndon McLeod, in 2020 and 2021.
Both Denver police and the FBI were warned about McLeod’s potential for violence before he killed Alicia Cardenas, Alyssa Gunn Maldonado, Michael Swinyard, Danny Scofield and Sarah Steck in four separate locations in Denver and Lakewood, including two tattoo parlors, a hotel and a private residence.
Lakewood police Agent Ashley Ferris shot and killed McLeod after she confronted him in the Belmar shopping district, ending the spree — after being shot herself by McLeod.
The Denver Department of Public Safety is in the process of finalizing its review and will release additional information in the coming weeks, spokeswoman Kelly Jacobs said in a statement Friday.
“The Department of Safety would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this senseless act of violence one year ago,” Jacobs said in the statement. “We join our community in remembering and honoring their legacies and the impacts that they had on our communities. These individuals were positive, passionate forces for good in Denver, and their memory will continue to live on and inspire those who hear their stories.”
Without the review’s findings, friends and family of those killed have been left with lingering questions.
Luis Garcia became friends with Cardenas more than 20 years ago through the Association of Professional Piercers. He was disgusted when he learned police had received a warning about McLeod prior to the shootings, he said. He questioned why it has taken so much time to release the findings of the review.
“If it shows you did your due diligence, why would you be hiding it?” Garcia said.
Part of the review included whether detectives read McLeod’s self-published novels after a man alerted them to the violent, racist and misogynistic books in 2021. McLeod named two of his real-life victims — Cardenas and Swinyard — as murder victims killed by a character named “Lyndon MacLeod” in the series.
Denver police and the FBI received a warning about McLeod and his books in January 2021. Andre Thiele contacted Denver police and the FBI after reading the books and participating in a chatroom for fans of the book. McLeod made increasingly alarming statements in the chats, which prompted Thiele to contact authorities, Thiele told The Denver Post in a previous interview.
“I think that there is a small, but undeniable possibility, that the accused may commit a terrorist attack,” Thiele wrote in his warning to law enforcement.
Thiele told a Denver police detective assigned to look into McLeod that McLeod’s books “could be read as an extremist right-wing manifesto and a terrorist prophecy.”
In one of the books, the “Lyndon MacLeod” character bursts into a Denver tattoo shop on West Sixth Avenue and kills several people. On the night of the killings, McLeod tried to break into a tattoo shop in the same block and fired several shots, but did not kill anyone.
Prior to the 2021 tip, a former roommate of McLeod’s in 2020 called Denver police after receiving texts from McLeod about buying flamethrowers that she found disturbing.
Denver police also arrested McLeod in 2012 after he threatened co-workers with a gun. He pleaded guilty to felony menacing in April 2012 and completed two years of probation as part of a deferred sentence. The charge was dismissed after he completed probation. He petitioned to have the case sealed in 2014 — which hid it from public view — but a judge unsealed the case after the 2021 killings.
The one-year anniversary of Cardenas’ death has resurfaced a lot of feelings for Garcia. He misses his friend, he said. She was a pillar of the community who spoke bluntly but loved abundantly.
“She was a beacon of light,” he said. “She was just a beautiful person. I miss her so much. I miss that light.”
He wants law enforcement — whether it’s the Denver Police Department or the FBI — to take accountability for their lack of action. While the details of the investigation will be important, the basic facts are plain, he said.
“We know the truth,” Garcia said. “We know they knew and didn’t do anything. We don’t need an investigation to tell us that.”
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