Film alluding to violence directed by Denver shooter released
DENVER — A man who fatally shot five people before being killed by police has hinted at the violence in a movie for sale on a website that previously sold fictional e-books he allegedly wrote, featuring victims and scenes similar to the attacks.
Lyndon McCleod, 47, injured two other people, including a police officer, during the Dec. 27 rampage at multiple locations around Denver.
The 47-minute film, “Warhorse,” shows McCleod in a hotel room with a briefcase full of $100 bills, riding a custom motorcycle around Denver, standing in an art museum, and sitting in a van outside. exterior of World Tattoo Studio, where McLeod once owned a business called Flat Black Ink Corp.
The film intercuts action sequences, often edited as animation, with snippets of still photos, animal skulls, tagged text, forest fires, illustrations, totems and references to war. civil. Throughout, an audio-distorted male voiceover reads texts on topics including Genghis Khan and Jesse James, the Denver Gazette reported.
A brief scene shows a character wearing a black hockey-like mask carrying a long gun and exiting a van. The film, which at one point shows McCleod removing the mask, only credits McCleod at the end and he is the only person in it.
Selling the film doesn’t sit well with Jeremy Costilow, whose name has been mentioned 100 times in McLeod’s self-published trilogy of books. Costilow was nearly killed in the rampage.
“Nobody should make money off of this. It’s terrible,” Costilow told the Gazette. “I know people are fascinated with killers, but I don’t think anyone should own this movie.”
Amanda Knight, a friend of McLeod’s who tipped off the police about her a year before the murders, helps sell the film to help McLeod’s former girlfriend recover the money and property she lost. A statement on the website reads, “Proceeds from this film will go to victims of crime.”
McLeod’s friends are also traumatized by the murders, Knight said.
“People have to heal. People have to survive. We’re not rich,” Knight said.
Jimmy Maldonado, who was injured during the killer’s first stop at a tattoo shop, saw a screenshot from the film showing McLeod in tactical gear.
“He wore the same helmet as the one in the movie,” Maldonado said. “At first I thought it was the police who shot me.”
McLeod was wearing black, Maldonado said, when he walked through the door of a tattoo shop and killed Maldonado’s wife, Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado, 35, and her friend, Alicia Cardenas, 44, owner of the store. McLeod within the next hour killed 67-year-old Michael Swinyard; Danny Scofield, 38; and finally hotel clerk Sarah Steck, 28.
Three people were killed in tattoo shops, and police said McLeod knew most of the victims through professional or personal connections.
Self-published fiction books written under the pseudonym of Roman McClay have named some of McLeod’s actual victims and described similar attacks. The books were no longer available for download on Sunday but the movie could be downloaded for $30.
In the first book, a character named Lyndon shoots everyone at a poker night hosted by a character named “Michael Swinyard”. The second novel also introduces a character named Lyndon and names “Alicia Cardenas” as the victim.
Investigators are aware of the film and will review it, Denver and Lakewood police said.
The FBI cannot comment on an ongoing investigation but continues to work with Denver and Lakewood police to determine the motive for the shooting, FBI spokeswoman Dana M. Plumhoff said Sunday by email.
This story has been corrected to show that three people were killed in tattoo shops, not four.