The Associated Press reports that the ex-soldier accused of killing a transit security officer in Denver last year has been sentenced to life in prison without parole. Joshua Cummings, 38, was found guilty of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Scott Von Lanken, 56. The trial lasted three days.
According to police reports, Cummings approached Von Lanken from behind on January 31, 2017 before putting a gun to his neck and shooting him. Von Lanken was speaking to two women when he was shot, and one of them stated that he was told to “do what you are told” before being shot and Cummings ran away. Police found him shortly afterward, hiding with a handgun outside of an apartment building.
Von Lanken formerly worked as a police officer and was contracted as a security guard with Denver’s Regional Transportation District.
Cummings told police during his interview that he supported the Islamic State, but no evidence has been found of the terror group having anything to do with the shooting. He joined the Army in 1996 but never saw combat. Cummings refused to give any statements to media, but told police he pledged allegiance to the group and fasted for three days in jail to “purge himself of an oath he took to uphold the U.S. Constitution.”
Prior to the shooting, local mosque members filed concerns with police about Cummings’ behavior. One mosque leader emailed the Department of Homeland Security on December 24, 2016, stating that a man identified as Joshua from Pampa, Texas, was a Muslim convert and made statements about fighting to establish the “rule of Islam.” It was also stated that the man made remarks about a speaker being too “soft” on Shariah law earlier in the month.
The FBI has declined to comment on any actions that may or may not have been taken after Cummings was interviewed in December of 2016.
Cummings was vocal on social media about his support for Islam and was both critical and supportive of law enforcement.
*Photo credit AP