First Degree Murder for Radicalized Former Army Sergeant


Memorial for fallen RTD officer Scott van Lanken (DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/AP)

Rashid Mohamed, Deputy Chief-in-Editor

Denver, Feb. 3 – Surrounded by eight brawny sheriff’s deputies in Denver’s District Court Friday morning, 37 year old Joshua Cummings was accused of shooting light rail officer Scott von Lanken, last Tuesday evening, outside of Union Station.

The 56 year old former Loveland pastor, worked in the evenings as a contract RTD Security Officer, and was assisting two female passengers at the time. According to one of the two witnesses, Cummings drew a gun to the Officer’s neck and told him to, ‘do as I tell you,’ before firing the fatal shot.

Pastor Scott von Lanken singing passionately at a sermon in 2007.

Cowering behind stacked chairs in a restaurant patio just a few blocks from the crime scene, the perpetrator was quickly located and apprehended by the police.

An image of Joshua Cummings from his Instagram page.

Cummings, whose next court appearance will be in early March, has yet to reveal a motive for his heinous crime.

After the morning’s court proceedings, Channel Seven News was quick on the scene at Denver’s Al Noor mosque, on Colorado and Evans, during the busy Friday noon prayer.

“We’re here to get people’s take on last Tuesday’s homicide. But the mosque authorities don’t want us to interview individual attendees, so we’re waiting for one of their spokesmen to come and talk to us,” leaked the cameraman.

A collection box for Scott Von Lanken’s family was placed on a long table by the entrance of the mosque, along with a picture of the fallen officer, who leaves behind a wife and two adult daughters.

It was in fact at this mosque, in late November of last year, that Joshua Cummings became belligerent with spiritual leaders, admonishing them for their liberal stance on the religion. As efforts to pacify and reason with him failed, alarm bells tolled in the mosque. One of the leaders quickly informed the Department of Homeland Security – via a late night email – of Cummings, his warped ideologies and his “willingness to fight.”

The name Joshua Cummings, however, was already familiar to DHS agents.

In his hometown of Pampa, Texas, the former Army sergeant and newly radicalized Muslim was known for going to churches, urging them to teach the scriptures of the Quran. Quite unbecoming, he quickly garnered the anger of residents, and it wasn’t long before Cummings was driven out of town – essentially on a one way ticket north to Denver.

According to Maggie Johnson, reporter for the Pampa News, friends and family have questioned Cummings mental state of mind, describing him as an unstable man, obsessed with conspiracy theories, believing for example, in a government administered implant that would diminish a person’s desire for God.

Meanwhile, as intelligence agencies focus their attention on the border front, in an effort to blanket potential radicals from entering the country, critics claim they are often heedless to potential threats from within – even after blatant tip-offs.

Muslim communities across the country are equally concerned about the safety of innocent civilians – be it here in the US – or in war zones such as Syria. They are acutely aware that it takes a concerted effort from both the DHS and the muslim communities to prevent potential threats.

Indeed hindsight is 20/20, and unlike the hit movie Minority Report, no one can foretell a crime one might commit. However, when certain suspects are pointed out by a community that is experienced in predicting radical traits in a person, it stands to reason that law enforcement ought to take heed on the double.

Fallen Officer Scott von Lanken carried off by fellow RTD Officers at the memorial. (Jenny Sparks, Loveland Reporter-Herald)

A memorial service at Resurrection Fellowship Church attended by 400 people, including law enforcement officers from agencies spanning the front range was held on Tuesday in honor of Scott Von Lanken – a man who was known to be a ‘peacemaker.’