DENVER (AP) – Four people shot to death in a deadly rampage in Denver have been attacked in tattoo parlors, raising questions about why they were targeted.
Police say 47-year-old Lyndon James McLeod knew most of the people he shot Monday at multiple locations around the metro through business or personal relationships. His motives were still being investigated. Five people were fatally injured in less than an hour, and two more were injured, including a police officer who shot McLeod after being wounded.
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McLeod once owned a business in Denver called Flat Black Ink Corp. at what is now called World Tattoo Studio, according to records from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. The man who answered the call at World Tattoo Studio hung up after being asked about McLeod on Tuesday night.
The first shoot took place in another tattoo parlor less than 1 mile from this address.
Matt Clarke, the Denver Police Department’s violent crime division commander, said on Tuesday that the perpetrator did not know the last person he shot, an employee at a hotel in the Belmar shopping district in Lakewood. Sarah Stack, 28, who died of her injuries on Tuesday. However, according to Clarke, McLeod had some business with the hotel.
Denver Police Chief Paul Pazin said during a press conference that McLeod is under law enforcement scrutiny and has been under investigation in both 2020 and 2021. He declined to say which case was being investigated, but said that no charges had been brought against him.
The shooting began around 5:30 pm in downtown Denver on Broadway, a busy street lined with shops, bars and restaurants, where two people were killed at Sol Tribe Tattoo & Piercing. Authorities identified them Wednesday as the owner of the tattoo parlor, Alicia Cardenas, 44, and another woman, Alyssa Gunn, 35. The man was also injured, police said, but is expected to survive. Friends and clients have identified him as Gunn’s husband, James Maldonado, a piercer at the store.
Shortly thereafter, MacLeod broke into a neighboring house, which also contained a business. Clarke said he chased passengers through the building and shot, but no one was hurt. Then, according to Clark, a man was shot dead in a house near Denver Park Cheeseman. On Wednesday, he was identified as 67-year-old Michael Svinyard.
Denver police later chased a vehicle allegedly involved in the shootings and the officer fired on McLeod, Clark said. According to him, McLeod was able to escape by escaping to Lakewood after the gunfire knocked out the officer’s cruiser.
Shortly before 6:00 pm, the Lakewood Police Department received reports of shots at the Lucky 13 tattoo parlor. Danny Scofield, 38, was killed there, Lakewood Police spokesman John Romero said.
When police spotted a suspected shooting vehicle in a Belmar shopping area – where shops line the sidewalks in a modern version of downtown – McLeod opened fire and police opened fire, Romero said. He escaped and allegedly threatened some people with a gun at a restaurant before heading to the Hyatt House, where he spoke briefly to clerk Stack before shooting her, he said.
About a minute later, a Lakewood police officer saw McLeod and ordered him to drop his weapon. According to Romero, she received a gunshot wound to the stomach, but shot him.
The injured officer, whose name has not been released, underwent surgery Monday night. She is expected to make a full recovery.
On Tuesday, candles, flower bouquets and several containers of fruit stood in the doorway of Cardenas’ tattoo parlor as people, including her fiancé Daniel Clelland, dropped in to remember a woman they said was cared for by many.
“I don’t know why anyone would do this,” Clelland said.
Cardenas’ father, Alfredo Cardenas, told KMGH-TV that his only daughter owned her first tattoo parlor when she was 19 and worked on Broadway for 15 to 20 years.
Alfredo Cardenas said Cardenas was survived by her 12-year-old son.
“She was very outgoing, very friendly, but she was a very determined person,” he said. “She knew where she was going.”
Associated Press photographer David Zalubovski and writer Thomas Piper contributed to this report.