Denver Shooter Novels Named Actual Victims Describe Similar Attacks
The man the authorities believe killed five people in a shootout Across the Denver Metro wrote on Monday about the murder of two of the victims in a series of novels he self-published in the four years leading up to the attacks.
Lyndon McLeod, 47, has written about similar murders, personal grudges and a desire for revenge in the three rambling, misogynistic and racist novels, which focus on rage, violence and economic inequality.
Denver Police said McLeod was under investigation in 2020 and 2021, but those investigations did not result in charges. Chief Paul Pazen on Tuesday declined to elaborate on the nature of the investigations and did not confirm McLeod’s pen name. The Denver Post confirmed the pen name with an acquaintance of McLeod.
Denver Police are aware of the books and they are part of the ongoing investigation, spokesman Doug Schepman said Wednesday. Schepman declined to answer if the police were aware of the books before the murders.
In a statement released on Monday, McLeod’s family said they were devastated by McLeod’s actions and mourned the victims of his attack.
âOur family has been separated for several years; we lost our son and our brother years ago, âthe statement read. âWe mourn the loss of life and injuries caused by this horrific crime. Every time someone loses their life as a result of gun violence, it is a tragedy. Monday’s losses are proof of the deep need for a system to help people with mental illness. “
Writing under the pseudonym Roman McClay, McLeod named the two Alicia Cardenas and Michael Swinyard as murder victims in his novels. Cardenas, 44, and Swinyard, 67, were both killed in Monday’s shooting.
Police believe McLeod killed Swinyard inside his home in One Cheesman Place, an apartment building in the 1200 block of Williams Street. A property manager at the building told residents in an email that McLeod was wearing tactical gear, a police logo and a badge when he entered the building.
In McLeod’s first novel, a character named “Lyndon MacLeod” wears police gear and kills a character named “Michael Swinyard” in his Williams Street apartment. The character in the book also kills other people in the building and robs them. The character has a list of people he wants to kill and considers some to be more important than others.
âThe murders were like food in the stomach, like wine at rest on the tongue,â the first book reads. “Killing people nourished the soul.”
McLeod’s second novel names Cardenas as a murder victim and also describes an attack on a tattoo parlor in the 200 block of W. 6th Avenue.
In the novel, the character named Lyndon breaks into the tattoo shop and kills several people, including the shop owner. In fact, police said, McLeod went to that block on Monday, fired shots and set a pickup truck on fire, but didn’t kill anyone.
McLeod was never licensed as a tattoo artist or owner of a tattoo shop in Denver, said Eric Escudero, spokesperson for Denver Excise and Licenses.
âSo if he was doing a tattoo job in Denver, he was doing it illegally since he didn’t have a license,â Escudero said.
McLeod’s name was on the lease from All Heart Industry, which obtained a body art establishment license in Denver in 2013 and was the company’s registered agent, Escudero said. All Heart Industry, which also used the name Flat Black Ink Corp., allowed its body art establishment license to expire in 2014.
Another person applied for a body art establishment license in 2015 at the same address and McLeod’s name was also on the lease for that application. The request was then withdrawn.
One of the victims of Monday’s attack, Danny scofield, worked at All Heart Industry several years ago, her sister said Wednesday.
The address of All Heart Industry – 246 6th Ave. – was taken over in 2016 by Sol Tribe Tattoo and Piercing, the boutique owned by Alicia Cardenas. The body art establishment license that Sol Tribe acquired for the location expired in 2017.
The tattoo parlor is also named in McLeod’s novels, and McLeod was seen near a Wells Fargo bank during Monday’s party, police said. This bank is the target of a theft in the novels; McLeod calls the bank “the biggest corporate criminal.”
In a blog post about his writings, McLeod said he deliberately mixed up fictional and real characters to “blur the line between what is and what is possible.” His books contain disclaimers indicating that the events described are fictitious.
McLeod’s writings indicate that he spent years thinking deeply about the crimes he committedsaid Max Wachtel, an Aurora-based forensic psychologist.
âIt looks like he had these fantasies for a long time and maybe he was expressing them through his writing,â Wachtel said. Sometimes writing fantasies can be an appropriate way to relieve the pressure of a fantasy without actually acting on it, he said.
âIt could have been his way of pushing those sick fantasies out of his mind and then he acted on it anyway, or it could have been a thinly veiled plan,â Wachtel said.
The most common motive for mass shootings is revenge, Wachtel said, and violent writings like McLeod’s should set off red flags when naming real people and places.
âIn my professional experience, if any of the people named in one of these books knew about it and presented it to a judge as evidence that that person was dangerous and needed a protection order, a judge would take most likely this seriously. and issue this protection order, âhe said.
It is not clear whether the people named in the books were aware of the novels.
McLeod posted photos on social media of a house he said he built from a shipping container on land he owned in countryside Colorado. Property records show he owned a plot of land in Las Animas County.
Carolyn Tyler, spokesperson for the Denver District Attorney’s Office, said Wednesday that Denver prosecutors had not opened any investigation into McLeod. She said the office’s last contact with McLeod was around 10 years ago and she couldn’t discuss the nature of the contact.
Journalist Conrad Swanson contributed.