Denver shooter published books about a tattoo shop attack, named victims

Mark A. Carlson

Two years before Lyndon James Mcleod went on a shooting rampage across Denver and Lakewood, killing five people and wounding at least two others, he wrote about an assassin clad in all black barging into a 6th Avenue tattoo parlor and fatally shooting tattoo artists and their clients.

Two people killed in the second book of a self-published trilogy rife with violent fantasies and rants against women, diversity and globalization, have the same names as people who died in the shooting spree Monday. 

The book also names Sol Tribe, the tattoo studio near West First Avenue and Broadway where Mcleod began the rampage by killing its owner and another tattoo artist. Mcleod also shot at people near a tattoo studio at West Sixth Avenue and Cherokee Street.  

At least two other people, including a police officer, were wounded before Mcleod was killed while exchanging gunfire with officers in the Belmar shopping district in Lakewood, according to police. 

On Wednesday, officials identified the fourth and fifth victims of the shooting. 

Michael Swinyard, 67, was shot and killed inside an apartment building near Cheesman Park, according to Denver’s medical examiner’s office.

Michael Swinyard at the Fete des Fleurs benefit for the Denver Botanic Gardens, at the Denver Botanic Gardens on Aug. 24, 2012. (Steve Peterson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Alyssa Gunn, 35, was also identified as a victim. Her husband, Sol Tribe piercer Jimmy Maldonado, was wounded, according to a GoFundMe and social media posts by friends and family.

Police identified three victims of the shooting Tuesday as:

Alicia Cardenas, 44

Cardenas was the owner of Denver tattoo shop Sol Tribe. She described herself on the shop’s website as a “true Denver Native” and a “proud Indigenous artist born and raised in the city who’s been working in the Denver body modification industry for nearly her entire life.” 

Her father told The Denver Post that Cardenas practiced Mesoamerican traditions and described her as well-loved and a leader.

A tweet from Colorado muralist. and artist Detour remembering Alicia Cardenas.

Danny Scofield, 38

Scofield was killed while working at Lucky 13 Tattoo in Lakewood. In an Instagram post, the shop described him as “an awesome human being, a great father, son and brother.” 

The father of three had “a smile that would shine brighter than the sun and a personality that brought joy and comfort to so many,” according to a GoFundMe page

Sarah Steck, 28

Steck, a hotel clerk at the Hyatt House in Lakewood, was killed after Mcleod entered the hotel and shot her several times. 

Steck “was loved and touched so many people’s lives,” according to a GoFundMe page set up to help her family with funeral costs. Police said Mcleod had previous interactions with the hotel, but was not necessarily acquainted with Steck.

Lakewood police also identified the wounded police officer as Ashley Ferris. As of Wednesday evening, she remained in the hospital, police said in a news release.

According to police, Ferris ordered Mcleod to drop his weapon near St. Vance Street and West Alaska Drive in Lakewood, after he shot and killed five people. Mcleod ignored her commands and shot Ferris in the stomach, causing her to fall to the ground. Ferris returned fire and Mcleod died on the scene.

“All of us at the Lakewood Police Department are incredibly proud of Agent Ferris and the bravery shown by her and her fellow law enforcement officers during this active shooter situation,” Lakewood Police Chief Dan McCasky said in the release. “Our hearts are incredibly heavy with the loss of life and injuries suffered by others during this rampage.”

Ashley Ferris, a Lakewood police officer, remains in the hospital Wednesday evening after she was wounded during Monday’s shooting spree across Denver and Lakewood. She shot and killed gunman Lyndon James Mcleod after he killed five others across the Denver area. (Photo provided by Lakewood Police Department)

Mcleod self-published his novels using the pseudonym Roman McClay, all of them filled with violence and hatred. In Mcleod’s second book, in which the main character shares the author’s real first name, he describes murdering characters named Alicia Cardenas and Michael Swinyard.

Denver police previously investigated Mcleod in 2020 and 2021, but no charges were filed against him, Denver police Chief Paul Pazen said Tuesday. He did not provide details on the nature of the investigations. 

One reviewer on Amazon described the second book of his series as “an angry alt-right wolf wrapped in science fiction wool.”

“This book is packed full of rants on diversity, women and globalization. There are fantasies of killing people involved in the BLM movement, and bizarre threats” to political commentators and others. “While others may be guilty of ignoring the necessity of violence in some extreme situations, this book fetishizes violence as the great equalizer,” the review reads. 

His books were published between 2018 and 2020. 

The connection between Mcleod and the victims is still unclear, but police said that the victims were known to Mcleod and that they are still investigating his motive.

Update: This story was updated Wednesday evening to identify Officer Ashley Ferris.

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