Denver mosque leaders apparently warned feds about Joshua Cummings, RTD shooting suspect

The mosque members wrote to an undisclosed person at the Department of Homeland Security on Dec. 24 about a man named “Joshua,” who was “not listening to reason.”

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Members of a Muslim faith community in Denver warned federal authorities about the radicalization of a man who closely matches the description of Joshua Andrew Cummings, according to an email distributed today by a local attorney.

Cummings is the man accused of killing an RTD security guard in cold blood on Tuesday night near Union Station.

The mosque members wrote to an undisclosed person at the Department of Homeland Security on Dec. 24 about a man named “Joshua,” who claimed to be from Pampa, Texas, according to the document. Attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai of Denver provided a redacted copy of the email, and the Department of Homeland Security confirms that it received the message.

The letter’s contents:

The letter stated that local Muslim faith leaders were concerned by their encounter with a man at an event for converts to Islam on Dec. 24. The man in question said he had joined the faith, or reverted, about three years earlier. Identifying himself only as “Joshua,” he said that he had a wife and child, according to the letter, which matches earlier reporting on Cummings.

The email warned authorities that “Joshua” had said that it was OK to “fight … here to establish the rule of Islam.”

At another event, according to the authors, he criticized a presenter as “being soft and not supporting enough the Hudud laws (criminal laws in shariah).”

The email described “Joshua” as a bearded white man and included photos, which have not been published. The man said that his family had threatened to kill his wife. The letter added that the man had agreed to meet with imams, or Muslim faith leaders, to “clarify his thoughts.”

“I am hoping to arrange a meeting of one of the stronger/more knowledgeable Imams with him to see if he can be mellowed a bit,” the author wrote. “But I doubt it would help. He is not listening to reason.”

The author was writing on behalf of a group of people from the faith community, according to the document.

The author or authors have not disclosed their identities to the press, but their attorney described them as “mosque leadership.”

“The Colorado Muslims who were involved in reporting Joshua Cummings in December 2016 to federal law enforcement would like to thank the authorities for their professional and prompt investigation into this matter,” Mohamedbhai said in a written statement.

“The individuals who reported Mr. Cummings, a new arrival to Colorado, were determined to protect and defend our communities.  It appeared that law enforcement took this alert very seriously.  The local Muslim communities cherish their relationships with their neighbors and local, state, and federal law enforcement, and will always oppose those who undermine our collective American values.”

For its part, DHS said that it received and had acted upon the letter.

“DHS did receive the e-mail in question from a community member in Denver. It was immediately referred to the appropriate law enforcement agencies for review,” acting press secretary Gillian Christensen wrote in an email. We have requested clarification of which agencies it was referred to.

Cummings appears to have lived in Pampa and in the Dallas-Fort Worth area until he moved to Denver late in 2016.

Cummings is expected to appear in court on Friday. Police have said that the suspect approached RTD security guard Scott Von Lanken from behind, telling him to “do as you are told,” before fatally shooting him in the head or neck.

Cummings was arrested with eight live rounds in his handgun about 20 minutes after the shooting, according to Denver Police Department. Read our previous coverage of the attack and more on Cummings’ background. See the letter for yourself here.