Lyndon James McLeod was named by police as the shooter who went on a rampage throughout Denver and Lakewood, Colorado, leaving a trail of five deceased victims and a wounded police officer on December 27, 2021.
McLeod, 47, also died in the killing spree, during which he targeted people at two tattoo parlors, a personal residence and a hotel across two communities. McLeod also went by the pen name Roman McClay, publishing a series of books called “Sanction” that involved a billionaire rewriting the DNA of violent people, including serial killers. The Denver Post reported that “in a 2018 book connected to McLeod, the author described in detail a fictional murder that closely mirrored one of Monday’s attacks.”
“It does appear that the offender was targeting specific people in this case,” Denver Police commander Matt Clark said in a news conference on December 28. “The victims were known to the offender.”
ABC reported, through sources, that McLeod, who once owned a Denver tattoo parlor himself, “harbored extremist views and had a history of psychiatric episodes.”
Journalist Kyle Clark wrote on Twitter, “The shooting spree suspect’s business, Flat Black Ink Corp, published a novel in which a man, also named Lyndon, shoots and kills people at a tattoo shop on 6th Avenue.” He added that the business “has been in delinquent status with state regulators since 2017.”
McLeod appeared obsessed with genetics on social media, writing, “Moar journalism: Americans don’t understand their own history. Northern yankee fux are genetically different from southern rednecks. We are nothing alike.” He engaged in threats against another author that landed him a visit from the FBI, according to one Twitter user in June 2020.
Posts from family and friends revealed that the gunman targeted well-known tattoo artists among other victims, and he knew some of them, police confirmed. Three of the deceased victims were named in social media tributes as tattoo artists Alicia Cardenas and Daniel Schofield, and Alyssa Maldonado, the wife of Jimmy Maldonado, a body piercer, who was shot but survived. Another still unidentified man was also murdered in the killing spree. Authorities revealed in a December 28, 2021, press conference that a fifth victim, hotel clerk Sarah Steck, also died of her injuries, bringing the gunman’s death toll to five.
“There was previous interactions with that hotel,” Clark, the police commander, said in the news conference. “Not necessarily that clerk.”
The female officer who was shot is expected to survive but needed surgery for a wound to the abdomen, authorities revealed in the news conference.
Agent Paul Osckel, of Lakewood public information, said in a news briefing that police were “working in conjunction with Denver Police Department on a large scale active shooter incident that ended here in Lakewood.”
Video showed McLeod calmly strolling into a tattoo parlor in Lakewood, where he killed Schofield.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Say Lyndon McLeod, Who Wrote Violent ‘Alpha Male Sci Fi’ Books About Artificial Intelligence, Opened Fire Across 4 Locations in Denver Before Continuing the Carnage in Lakewood
According to KDVR-TV, McLeod “wrote and published a series of books called ‘Sanction’ under the name Roman McClay.”
The main character was named after McLeod, and he said the narrator was “artificial intelligence,” according to the television station. Journalist Kyle Clark described the gunman’s work this way: “The shooting spree suspect’s business published a three-book series of what could be described as alpha male sci fi, published from 2018-2020, celebrating brutal violence against the characters’ perceived enemies and graphic sexual assaults.”
The Instagram page for the books has a profile that reads:
The book that philosophizes with a Jack-Hammer
Location: hríð tòrr
Status: 96% Norse-Scot; 4% Neanderthal; MAO-A allele w/TOXO
He also had a Twitter page for his book series and a Patreon account. The book series’ website even has merchandise for sale.
A review of one of the books on the site said:
F*** you, I’m can’t summarize this. This plot is like three angry gorillas screaming at your soul. You could think and consider and try to understand one but all three at once is not going to happen. The BASIC plot: a politician/billionaire wants to use gene editing tech to rewrite the DNA of criminals. Think serial killers and just generally violent people. This plan requires the creation of two different styles of artificial intelligence. They have a plan, and other plans, and inside those plans are more plans, and inside those plans is a middle finger pointed right at God. And when God is offended, bad things happen to His creation.
Another review read, “I don’t think you can understand the Nordic man, the northern woman, the people of the steppe, the tribal elders, and the young warriors, I don’t think you can feel their hearts, the massive seawater and hydrostatic pressure of love that lives inside the peoples of old, until you’ve read Sanction.”
McLeod was interviewed by YouTube host Zuby about his beliefs and background. In the video interview from 2019, at about 10 minutes in, he talks about having a string of business failures.
Over 15 years from about the age of 25 to 41 or 42, “I had a series of collapses, economic… business collapses,” he said, adding that he “just restored it.”
He said that was his philosophy: “If it fails,” learn and do it again. He said he did that 11 times with “minimal complaining… failure is normal. You can not sit around and wallow in this.”
He said he rebuilt his life and businesses over and over again. At age 42, he noticed on the 12th time, that it was different; this time, he claimed, there was “so much malice involved” by business partners.
“Fraud was committed against me,” he alleged, but he said the courts said he had no standing. He went from making $25,000-$30,000 a month in cash to zero “all in an instant.” He had to sell all his assets, including his house. All of the people he had trusted in life didn’t like him, he told the host.
Unless a person is “sociopathic” with no emotions, “that’s going to hit you,” he said, admitting that he went to a “very dark place” and he had “all kinds of ideas of what I was going to do in order to make this right.” He decided to do something “creative with your pain” and do something positive. He gave himself an out. If that book thing doesn’t work, he would go to another plan, he thought.
He said writing books was a pro-social and ethical thing that he could do with the “pain and malice and catastrophe of my life.”
Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said in the first news briefing on December 27 that there were a “series of violent incidences that we believe started in Denver. … We have four significant locations where gunfire took place in the City and County of Denver.” The mayhem then continued into Lakewood, resulting in more deaths and the injury to the officer. Pazen called it a “killing spree.”
The first incident occurred shortly after 5 p.m. December 27, 2021, at 1st and Broadway, Denver’s police chief said in the briefing. Two adult women were shot dead, and one adult male was injured.
That was at Sol Tribe Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing. Cardenas, who owned the business, and the Maldonados were shot.
Matt Clark, an official with Denver police, said in a follow-up news conference that, around 5:25 p.m. on December 27, 2021, Denver police received a 911 call that a shooting had occurred at a business and found the deceased victims inside. The adult male, Jimmy Maldonado, had fled the business and was taken to an area hospital.
At 5:31 p.m., Denver police received a report of a burglary in progress. McLeod was trying to “gain access to a residence.” He pursued the occupants through the residence, which was also part of a business, and gunshots were fired, but no one was injured. That location, Bannock Street and 6th Avenue, was where McLeod used to own a tattoo parlor, ABC reported.
He then set a van on fire, according to police.
At 5:45 p.m., Denver police received a report of another shooting in a home in the 1200 block of Williams Street. Police said an adult male, who has not been identified, was shot and killed just inside his business.
According to police, McLeod fled and four minutes later, his black early 2000s Ford Ecoline van was spotted by officers, who pursued it. He fired at the officers, and one exchanged gunfire with him. The officer was not injured, but McLeod’s gunfire disabled his vehicle.
McLeod then headed into Lakewood, where the carnage continued, police said.
Denver police wrote at 6:43 p.m. on December 27, “ALERT: #Denver officers are investigating a shooting in the area of 1st and Broadway. 2 victims have been located with unknown extent of injuries. No arrests at this time. Updates will be posted as they become available.”
2. Denver Police Revealed McLeod Was on Law Enforcement’s Radar; a Fellow Author Says McLeod Threatened to Cut Off His Wife’s Head
Police said that McLeod was on the radar of law enforcement through two previous investigations, neither of which led to state or federal charges. They took place in 2020 and early 2021, according to the Denver police chief.
Although police did not reveal details of those investigations, Travis Corcoran, a science fiction author, wrote on Twitter in a now-private post, “Remember a yr or so back when Roman McClay, author of ‘Sanction: The Book.’ told me that he was going to come to my house, kick in my door, murder me, and cut off my wife’s head? well…looks like he just murdered 4 people and then got capped by the cops.”
On a Twitter page in the name Jack Three, McLeod wrote about this incident in June 2020. “As a jounalist -Jack 3- found out that Travis called the FBI on @mcclay_roman, Has anyone upbraided @MorlockP for calling himself an AnCap whilst also calling The FBI to settle his disputes? How @NoLongerBennett @vlatko can support this Yankee Fraud is God’s own private mystery,” McLeod wrote. @morlockP is the Twitter page of Corcoran.
He also wrote, “Apparantly, even the FBI admitted the entire thing was asinine…” and then made claims about Corcoran.
Another Twitter user wrote in 2020, “Roman McClay is the kind of guy who’s a****** enough to get the FBI on his a** and then kind enough to become friends with them when they finally find him. I love that about him.”
But on another Twitter thread, archived here, Twitter user Marcus the Revenant chronicled the feud and had unkind words for McLeod, writing, “that’s what Roman McClay is – no man at all. The carefull crafted persona, designed to scam young men looking for guidance out of their hard earned money, is nothing more than a third-rate Tyler Durden masturbation fantasy.”
The writer added, “Meet Roman McClay – ‘author,’ self-styled tough guy, wannabe thought-leader. A persona carefully crafted to mimic the Ivan Throne or Cobra Tate style of a ‘leader of men, and a grifter of them too.'”
McLeod got in a feud with yet another Twitter user, writing, “Because Roman is poor? True. But… Why would poverty be excuse for owning a Tesla? Heh. Bob, you’re a skinny dork. Stop trying to win some internet game. You’d piss your pants if Roman showed up to your twenty.”
Although authorities didn’t reveal a motive, they said McLeod had prior business and personal relationships with the Denver victims.
Authorities believe the spree started in Denver, but what motivated McLeod remains under investigation, Pazen said.
3. The Shooter, Whose Former House Contained ‘Numerous Hidden Gun Safes in the Walls,’ Went Into the Belmar Shopping Center & a Tattoo Parlor in Lakewood
Gabriel Thorn, who said he bought his home from McLeod five years ago, told KDVR that “there were numerous hidden gun safes in the walls of this house.” He said McLeod “just disappeared off the face of the earth when we bought the house. My wife and I joke that he’s changed his name and moved out of the country,” according to KDVR.
John Romero, public information officer for Lakewood police, said in the initial news briefing that “we still have a lot of details we’re sorting out at this point.”
Just before 6 p.m., Lakewood police received a call of shots fired at a business along the 1500 block of Kipling, he said. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. This victim was named by loved ones as Daniel Schofield, a tattoo artist who went by the name Dano Blair on social media. Authorities said in the December 28 news conference that he worked at Lucky 13 Tattoo & Piercing. Authorities got a description of the car and the shooter, Romero said.
A little while later, at the Belmar area, Lakewood agents identified the car. When they tried to make contact with the driver, he opened fire on Lakewood agents, who returned fire, Romero said.
The driver then fled on foot to the Belmar shopping area, where he “felony menaced another business with a firearm before retreating to the Hyatt Place,” Romero said. He then shot one of the clerks there, Sarah Steck, and she later died.
The shooter fled the area again and fired at a Lakewood police agent, hitting her in the abdomen, Romero said during the December 28 news conference. The agent then shot and killed McLeod, he said. He did not name the agent. He said authorities don’t believe there are additional safety concerns.
“Terrifying night for shoppers as the shooter fled Denver officers to the Belmar Shopping center in Lakewood. The gunman shot at officers and went into a business. He shot a clerk who is now in the hospital and an officer. No word on a motive,” Denver journalist Jessica Porter wrote on Twitter.
Lakewood police wrote, “LPD working an officer involved shooting in Belmar area. More info to come, including media staging area.” They added, “Media. Please stage at Olive Garden parking lot at Wadsworth and Alameda.”
Photojournalist Mark Neitro wrote on Twitter: “Christmas music playing on empty streets at Belmar in Lakewood as an officer yells at me to leave because of an active shooter.”
“Obviously it could have been a lot worse than it was,” Romero said during the news conference. “Belmar is a very popular area and it was very populated at the time. … I can’t say enough about the courage and bravery shown by that Lakewood police agent.”
4. McLeod Previously Lived in Texas & Several Cities in Colorado; He Wrote About White Supremacy on Twitter
Public records show McLeod had a post office box in Denver and had lived in Boerne, Texas, from 2003 to 2020. He had also lived in Arvada, Broomfield and Thornton, Colorado, and San Antonio, Texas.
On the Jack Three Twitter page, McLeod wrote about white supremacy and the boogaloo movement.
He retweeted a post that said, “The group is white supremacist and aims to start a race war it calls the ‘boogaloo.'” His response? “Heh.”
He compared the “Connecticut Yankee” and the “Western outlaw” on Twitter.
“Americans have been sold the lie that a Connecticut Yankee and a Western outlaw are the same because they’re both ‘white,'” read another tweet by McLeod. “Nothing could be more wrong (genetically speaking). From Billy the Kid (McCarty) to The Hell’s Angels, the Ulster & Highland Scots are not American.”
Authorities believe McLeod was the only suspect. They said they were still trying to determine if the suspect was wearing body armor.
5. The Victims Include Beloved Tattoo Artists
Tributes flowed for Cardenas, who The Denver Post reported was 44. “Rest in power Alicia Cardenas. You were a force of nature, a strong voice for your communities, a mentor and friend to so many. I mourn you and I mourn all the art you still had left to create, all the energy you still had to share with the world. You made an impact and your loss cuts deep,” wrote Michelle Baldwin.
According to Sol Tribe Tattoo and Piercing, “Alicia Cardenas is a true Denver Native—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. She began working and apprenticing at Bound By Design in 1994 at the age of 16 and began piercing there professionally a year later. In 1997, she opened her first shop, Twisted Sol—Denver’s first custom tattoo and professional body piercing studio. She began her journey as a tattooer—in addition to her already extensive knowledge of body modification—in 2008, and in 2009, after twelve glorious years at Twisted Sol’s Cap Hill location, she and longtime shop manager Kevin Strawbridge moved down to Broadway to open Sol Tribe.”
Amanda Weber wrote on Facebook about Schofield, who was 38 according to The Denver Post, “Our hearts are broken, we lost a very dear friend, The kindest soul to senseless violence. Dano Blair you will forever be loved by all of us. I miss you so much already.. we all will celebrate your bright light every day moving on. From here on out, everything we do is for Dano 🧡🖤🧡🖤 — feeling heartbroken.”
On Facebook, Schofield indicated that he was a tattoo artist. His top post reads, “It’s that time of year again! October is right around the corner. I will be doing my annual October promotion! Half off horror portraits all October! This is a appointment only promotion, all appointments require a minimum of $50 deposit. Spots will fill up quick! Let’s have some fun guys!! (Please share and spread the love) love y’all!!” He showcased his artwork on his Facebook page.
Kimberley Montoya wrote on Facebook, “I am soooooo Broken hearted for my Grandson Tenoch 💔💔💔💔💔😥😥😥😥😥His father Jimmy Maldonado was shot in this random tattoo shooting s yesterday in Denver metro area! He is alive thank you God and in ICU!!!! Unfortunately his wife Allisa and owner Alicia did not survive the shooting s💔💔💔💔🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏I asked for prayers for my grandson his father Jimmie that we all love and for all the family members that lost a love one yesterday.”
Maldonado, a surviving victim, is featured in an artist bio on the Sol Tribe website: “James ‘El Bato Loco’ Maldonado has been piercing and spreading good vibes in Denver since 1996. He was first apprenticed at Denver’s oldest tattoo shop, Bound By Design, but found his home at Alicia Cardenas’ first shop, Twisted Sol, for many years,” it reads.
“James also did a stint in the world famous and first ever body piercing studio in the United States, Gauntlet, in San Francisco. James is a fully trained and well rounded piercer who can help you with all of your piercing needs including child lobe piercing and specialty genital piercing. In addition to piercing, James is a longtime Denver activist and Aztec Dancer. James has begun offering ritual piercing and cleansings for his clients; please inquire with him about a consultation. James is fluent in Spanish and is passionate about keeping his piercings attainable by all people of all walks of life. Because of the years James has been piercing, he is an excellent resource for problematic piercings and anything piercing-related you could ever need!”
Officials said Steck died in the hospital on December 28. She was 28, according to The Denver Post.