A “radical Muslim” has been named as the suspect in the “execution style” shooting of a former cop and Pastor in Colorado. The Denver Police Department is accusing 37-year-old Joshua Cummings of killing Scott Von Lanken, 56. Von Lanken is a former Wisconsin cop.
According to documents in the case, Von Lanken, a security guard with the Regional Transportation District in Denver, was helping two women with directions when he was allegedly ambushed by the suspect. The attack happened on the night of January 31 at around 11 p.m. close to Union Station in Denver. One witness heard the suspect say “something to the effect of ‘Do what you are told…'” before the shots rang out. That witness added that the suspect had a “swollen face and different/weird-looking eyes.”
In announcing Cummings’ arrest, a police spokesman noted the similarities between Von Lanken’s security uniform and Denver PD uniforms. A source within law enforcement told Fox Denver that Cummings is being investigated as a “radical Muslim.” The station reports that officers found “jihadist materials” in Cummings’ backpack. The Denver Channel reports that Cummings was on an FBI terror watch list.
On December 24, Muslim leaders sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security detailing Cummings’ “advanced path to radicalization.” The letter details conversations that Muslim leaders had with Cummings where the suspect talked about wanting to fight to establish the “rule of Islam.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Cummings Had Several Anti-Cop Messages on His Twitter Page
Throughout several messages on Cummings’ Twitter page, he outlays his feelings about certain members of law-enforcement. In July 2016, Cummings said that Officer Doug Rose in Arizona should be “put to death.” He had been accused of illegally arresting a naked woman named Esmeralda Rossi in 2015. Az Central reported that Rossi was paid $125,000 by the Chandler City Council for the emotional distress caused.
One of the suspect’s friends told NBC Denver that Cummings had “always been anti-cop.” That friend added that Cummings “held guns to people’s heads before. It didn’t surprise me he finally lost it.”
Earlier, in November 2015, Cummings posted the above video. Although in September 2015, Cummings wrote on Twitter, “We live in dangerous times, my friends. Thank you to all those who serve. #military #cops #police #deputysheriff.”
Many of the posts on Cummings’ Twitter account link to a now-defunct Facebook page. He gives his location at the Texas High Plains. His messages on Twitter also detailed his Muslim-faith. On June 25, Cummings wrote, “I seek refuge in the one God from the evils of Satan, and I begin in the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful.” A day later, Cummings wrote, “Wake up people. America is a failed state. It’s about to get so real.”
2. Von Lanken’s Family Was Broke as He Struggled to Find Work as a Pastor
NBC Denver reports that Von Lanken had been working as a security officer while he was between pastoral gigs. His wife, Shellie, told the station, “He just had such a passion to reach out to people in this area and see their lives change.”
While NBC Denver’s Kyle Clark wrote on Facebook that Von Lanken had been working 65 hours a week to help support their “adult daughter with severe disabilities.” Shellie Von Lanken told Clark, “I would like to know why [Cummings] would take somebody who is so loved and so needed in this family.” CBS Denver reports that Von Lanken had two identical daughters.
The Von Lanken’s shared a Facebook page. On there, Von Lanken says that he used to be a police officer with the city of La Crosse in Wisconsin. He left the force in 1987. Von Lanken worked as a Pastor at the First Assembly of God in Fountain Hills, Arizona from 1989 until 2001. After that, Von Lanken worked as the Pastor at the Eagles Nest in Loveland, Colorado. He writes about that time saying, “We also have organized done regional revival conferences in Colorado for the purpose of calling a new generation to spiritual awakening.”
NBC Denver reports that Von Lanken met his wife in La Crosse.
CBS Denver reports that Von Lanken had been working for Allied University and was contracted to work for RTD. The CEO of the organization, Dave Genova said in a statement, “This is an incredibly sad day for us, and on behalf of the entire RTD family I extend my prayers and express my sincere condolences to the officer’s family, friends and loved ones.”
In 2007, Von Lanken was quoted in a Denver Post article about his pastoral work in Colorado. The victim said at the time, “We are establishing a Kingdom of God on the Front Range of Colorado. God is looking to move his kingdom beyond the wall of his church.”
3. Cummings Had Recently Been Thrown Out of a Mosque in Texas
Documents in Cummings arrest say that he was arrested without incident around 20 minutes after the shooting. Denver Westword reports that Cummings has a misdemeanor arrest from outside of Colorado which is more that five years ago. NBC Denver reports that when Cummings was arrested, he was on his knees praying.
4. Cummings Ran a Jiu-Jitsu School Where He Worked With Children
According to his LinkedIn page, Cummings was the owner and head instructor of Pampa Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Pampa, Texas. The town is located around 50 miles north-east of Amarillo. Cummings also says on the page that he attended Texas Christian University, Southwestern University and Amarillo College. A spokesperson for Texas Christian University told Heavy.com that Cummings was never registered as a student there.
writes on the profile about a period in his life when he was a bouncer at a hipster bar in Austin, Texas.
On his Twitter bio, Cummings writes, “I’m a Jiu-Jitsuka on the hunt for knowledge of spirit, mind, and body seeking upon the path of Jiu-Jitsu.” The Denver Post reports that a man with Cummings’ name and date of birth was in active service with the U.S. army from 1997 until 2002 and as a reservist from 2003 until 2004. That man left with the rank of sergeant having been stationed in Amarillo, Texas.
In describing his Jiu-Jitsu school, Cummings says that he teaches the same kinds of martial arts practiced by the U.S. armed forces.
5. FBI Director James Comey Said in 2015 that Colorado Faced a ‘Unique’ Threat From ISIS
The Denver Channel reported in the summer of 2015 that the state of Colorado. That was according to FBI Director James Comey who was visiting the state. Comey said, “ISIL has been motivating people to kill people in uniform. That’s a threat to the military everywhere, but given Colorado, the number of personnel in Colorado, it’s a focus of ours here.”