Education

Denver police received tip about shooting spree gunman and his books in January 2021

Police received a warning almost one year ago regarding suspected Denver gunman Lyndon James McLeod and his violent books before he went on a shooting rampage that killed five.

McLeod, 47, was identified as the suspect in the Dec. 27 shooting that unfolded at several locations in the Denver metro area.

Police said they believed McLeod wrote several books, under the pseudonym “Roman McClay,” in which he included details similar to the killing spree. Denver police said his writings “are a component of our investigation into the shootings.”

Denver police told NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver they received a tip regarding McLeod in January 2021 from an individual in Germany, “citing several concerns.”

“One element was possible theft/fraud involving a potential victim outside of Colorado. At the time this tip was received, DPD could not link McLeod to a Denver address provided in the tip and had no reason to believe he was living in Denver,” Denver police said. 

An investigator contacted the potential victim out of state and “no Denver connection was established to the alleged crime,” police said. 

The man who submitted the tip, Andre Thiele, spoke to the Denver Post saying he contacted Denver 311 on Jan. 3, 2021 about McLeod. 

He had read McLeod’s books and participated in a chatroom for book fans, in which the author participated and made alarming comments.

Thiele wrote to Denver police, “I think that there is a small, but undeniable possibility, that the accused may commit a terrorist attack.”

“I cannot in good conscience say that he will act with certainty,” Thiele wrote. “But I can say that IF he should act, the result would be devastating. He then would stop at nothing.”

He also submitted a tip online to the FBI and sent a letter via mail. The FBI did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment. 

In the book series, entitled “Sanction,” two characters had the same names of the victims in the shooting: Michael Swinyard, 67, and Alicia Cardenas. In one book, he mentions the tattoo shop she owned, Sol Tribe.

Police officers stand outside Sol Tribe tattoo shop on Broadway where two women were killed and a man was injured in a shooting in Denver on Dec. 27, 2021.Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images

Based on a preliminary probe, investigators determined McLeod was “targeting specific people,” Denver Police Cmdr. Matt Clark said Dec. 29. 

Police Chief Paul Pazen previously said McLeod was “on the radar” of law enforcement and had been investigated twice — once in mid-2020 and again in 2021. Neither inquiry led to state or criminal charges, and Pazen declined to provide additional details about the investigations or what led to them.

In the bloody rampage, McLeod opened fire at a business near downtown Denver, identified as Sol Tribe tattoo shop, NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver reported. The fatal victims in that shooting were identified as Alicia Cardenas, a tattoo artist at the shop, and Alyssa Gunn, 35, police said, and a man was also injured.

He then opened fire at a nearby residence and business, but did not injure anyone. He went to another home and there shot Swinyard. 

He later went to the suburb of Lakewood, where he fatally shot Danny Scofield, 38, inside another tattoo shop. Then he went to the Hyatt House hotel where he shot desk clerk, Sarah Steck, 28, Lakewood police said.  

He was ultimately shot and killed by Lakewood Police Officer Ashley Ferris. He shot her in the abdomen, but she survived the injury and as of last week was recovering in the hospital, Lakewood Police said

Doha Madani and Tim Stelloh contributed.

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