Denver, CO

Gunman in fatal Denver rampage targeted connections in tattoo community

Sara B. Hansen

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Joey Black, right, owner of Lucky Tattoo and Body Piercings gets a hug from a friend outside of his shop on Dec. 29 in Lakewood, Colorado.Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post

By Sara B. Hansen / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) The former business partner of a shooter who went on a murderous rampage Monday narrowly escaped death when the gunman knocked on his door.

Jeremy Costilow and his girlfriend, Chelsea Matthews, were at their Denver home Monday night when a suspicious man knocked on their door. He wore a headlamp and concealed his hand under a package with Costilow’s name on it the couple told Denverite.

Matthews, holding the couple’s infant daughter, became suspicious and closed the door.

The man soon began pounding on the door with a sledgehammer. Costilow, Matthews, their child, and a guest fled to his tattoo parlor, VI Collective, attached to the house.

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Costilow told Denverite he believes he was on Lyndon James Mcleod’s hitlist because he previously ran a tattoo business with the shooter. The men employed Danny Scofield, who was shot and killed Monday at Lucky 13 Tattoo in Lakewood.

Deadly rampage

After the business failed, Alicia Cardenas opened a body art business at that location before relocating Sol Tribe Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing to South Broadway. Her Broadway store was the first stop on the gunman’s deadly spree. He shot and killed Cardenas and Alyssa Gunn Maldonado and critically wounded Jimmy Maldonado there.

Costilow’s home was Mcleod’s second stop, and he fired several shots through a locked door that protected Costilow’s group without injuring anyone. When he left, he set Costilow’s van on fire.

The shooter, dressed in tactical gear with a police logo and badge, then proceeded to One Cheesman Place in Denver, where he forced a lobby security guard to escort him to a floor in the 19-story building. The shooter then forced his way into Michael Swinyard’s condo and fatally shot him.

Denverite reports Swinyard allegedly grew cannabis illegally at an address in Denver, according to a court indictment. In a self-published novel, Mcleod described a marijuana-growing operation at the same address. He also named characters after himself and Swinyard. Police have not released any information linking the two men, The Denver Post reported.

Police previously said they did not believe the shooter knew Sarah Steck, the fatally shot clerk at Hyatt House hotel in Lakewood. But police said the shooter held a grudge against the hotel.

Lakewood Police Agent Ashley Ferris ended Mcleod’s rampage by fatally shooting him after he shot her in the stomach. She is recovering at a Denver-area hospital.

Who was the shooter?

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Lyndon James McleodFacebook image

Mcleod self-published rambling, misogynistic and racist novels with characters named Cardenas and Swinyard and described a series of murders similar to Monday’s attacks.

Denver police spokesman Doug Schepman told The Denver Post police knew about Mcleod’s books but would not say whether police were aware of the books before the rampage.

Mcleod’s family released a statement saying they were devastated by his actions.

“Our family has been estranged for a number of years; we lost our son and brother years ago,” the statement read.

“We mourn the loss of life and injuries caused by this horrendous crime. Anytime someone loses their life to gun violence it is a tragedy. The losses Monday are evidence of the deep need for a system geared toward helping mentally-ill individuals.”

Remembering the victims

Alicia Cardenas

Alicia Cardenas, 44, was killed at her business, Sol Tribe Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing, in Denver. Cardenas described herself as a “true Denver Native” in her biography on Sol Tribe Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing’s website. She also was 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.”

A 12-year-old child survives her. A verified GoFundMe account has been established to help her family.

Alyssa Gunn Maldonado

Alyssa Gunn Maldonado, 35, worked as the jewelry manager at Sol Tribe and taught a weekly yoga class for employees. She was fatally shot Monday, and her husband, Jimmy Maldonado, a piercer at Sol Tribe, was critically injured. He remains hospitalized. A verified GoFundMe account has been established to help the Gunn and Moldonado family.

Michael Swinyard

Michael Swinyard, 67, died Monday after the shooter forced his way into Swinyard’s condo at One Cheesman Place. He built custom homes and remodeled others.

Danny “Dano” Scofield

Danny Scofield, 38, was fatally shot at Lucky 13 Tattoo in Lakewood. His younger sister April Potter told the Denver Post Scofield was supposed to be with family in Kansas Monday but had delayed his trip. “It broke both of our hearts. He told me it would be OK and that we would see each other soon,” Potter told the Post. “I didn’t know that would be the last time I spoke to him.” Two verified GoFundMe accounts have been set up to help pay for funeral costs and support his three children.

Sarah Steck

Sarah Steck, 28, ​​was fatally shot Monday night while working as a front desk clerk at the Hyatt House hotel in Belmar.

Steck worked nights at the hotel while completing her degree in Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Communication Design Program. She graduated this spring and hoped to find work at a design studio or advertising agency, her advisor Peter Miles Bergman told the Denver Post.

A verified GoFundMe account will support Steck’s family.

McCasky, the Lakewood police chief, said, “Our hearts are incredibly heavy with the loss of life and injuries suffered by others during this rampage.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Cardenas, Gunn-Maldonado, Scofield, Steck and Swinyard families, as well as the families of those injured.

Want to help?

Donations to help support the victims, families and survivors can be made through the Colorado Healing Fund.

Lakewood also has opened a resource center to help anyone struggling to cope after the rampage. According to a news release, mental health therapists will staff the center and provide trauma resources. The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon Friday at 7439 W. Alaska Drive in Belmar.

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Sara is the Denver news manager for NewsBreak. She's held editing roles at The Denver Post, The Des Moines Register, and The Fort Collins Coloradoan.

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