DENVER – Denver resident, David Joseph Lawless, age 32, of Denver, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Wiley Y. Daniel to serve 240 months (20 years) in federal prison for use of a destructive device during a crime of violence, United States Attorney John Walsh, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Andrew Traver and Federal Bureau of Investigations Special Agent in Charge James Yacone announced. The Lakewood Police Department, the Jefferson County Sheriff‘s Office, and the Colorado State Patrol played a critical role in the investigation and apprehension of Lawless as well. Following his prison sentence, Lawless was ordered to serve 5 years on supervised release. The amount of restitution Lawless owes will be determined at a later date. Lawless appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody, and was remanded at the conclusion.
Lawless was charged by Criminal Complaint on June 27, 2011. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on July 12, 2011. The government obtained a superseding indictment on February 6, 2012. Lawless pled guilty before Chief Judge Daniel on October 4, 2012. He was sentenced today, December 20, 2012
According to court documents, including the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, the indictments, and the stipulated facts in the plea agreement, on June 25, 2011, at approximately 12:38 am, an alarm was activated at the Borders bookstore located in the Colorado Mills Shopping Center. The Lakewood Police Department was dispatched to the store, and upon arrival discovered that the entrance/exit door of the Borders bookstore was shattered and cleared to facilitate entry into the business from the outside. While securing the store, Lakewood officers discovered two suspected explosive devices inside. The Jefferson County Bomb Squad was called, and subsequently responded to the scene. The bomb squad located three suspected explosive devices. The first was located outside the mall near the entrance to Borders. Two others were found inside the store.
The device located outside the mall entrance was discovered in one of the garbage containers. That device partially functioned. Another similar device was located within the Borders store. That device also partially functioned. The third suspected device was placed on a table within the store. No initiation occurred in relation to that suspected device. The bomb squad determined the devices were safe. No render safe procedures were conducted relative to any of the devices
The FBI Evidence Response Team (ERT) and the ATF processed the scene, collecting evidence which was then transported to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. While processing the scene, investigators found what appeared to be blood at the bookstore. A review of security camera footage showed a person who appears to be a white male breaking into the glass public entrance door. It appears the person injured his hand while breaking into the store.
On the same date, June 25, 2011, at 8:05 am the FBI was notified by the Lakewood Police Department that several of the front windows of a Best Buy store located approximately a ½ mile away from the bookstore were smashed open from the outside. At 12:52 am outdoor video surveillance showed a white male driving a green Toyota Tacoma go in and out of camera view. No evidence of arson or a destructive device was recovered from the scene at Best Buy.
At approximately 2:54 am, the Jefferson County Sheriff responded to assist the West Metro Fire and Rescue Department regarding an explosion and fire incident reported by guests at a Marriott Hotel located approximately a ½ mile from the Best Buy, and approximately a mile from the bookstore. Deputies at the hotel scene recovered what appeared to be a crude device. That evidence was also sent to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. During the investigation agents and task force officers found outdoor surveillance cameras near the mall which showed a dark colored Toyota Tacoma.
At approximately 6:37 pm the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) responded to a one car crash on Colorado 103 at mile post ten (10) in Clear Creek County. Two off-duty Arapahoe County Sheriff‘s Deputies were at the scene of the crash attempting to render aid. The driver in the crash was later identified as Lawless. Lawless, who appeared to be intoxicated, attempted to stab the deputies with scissors while they were detaining him. He was arrested by the Colorado State Patrol for DUI and felony menacing. Lawless had an injury to his hand, which was consistent with the injury to the person who broke into the Borders bookstore. He was also driving a green Toyota Tacoma, which was consistent with what agents and officers observed on surveillance video near the scene of the incidents.
Later investigators learned that there was another device in the defendant‘s truck, as well as components for the devices at his residence. Lastly, it was determined that Lawless researched how to make the devices on the internet from a computer also at his residence.
"With this lengthy prison sentence, the Court has ended the Defendant's days of building and planting dangerous destructive devices," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. "The investigation into the actions of David Lawless demonstrate the collective power and determination of local, state and federal law enforcement working together to identify and arrest someone capable of violent acts."
"ATF will continue to utilize its specialized explosives expertise, resources and partnerships with Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate explosives and bombing incidents," said Special Agent in Charge Andrew Traver. "This investigation illustrates our commitment to protecting the public and bringing the perpetrator of such a violent act to justice."
"This sentencing reflects the seriousness of these criminal acts in the risk posed to innocent citizens and property by the use of explosives," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge James Yacone. "The resolution of this case was a result of the outstanding collaborative effort between the FBI, ATF, Lakewood Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, and the Colorado State Patrol to promptly respond, investigate, and bring Lawless to justice."
"This case is an excellent example of how we can work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to bring to justice those individuals who threaten the safety of our citizens," said Lake Police Chief Kevin Paletta.
"This case illustrates the value of information sharing and the benefit of strong working relationships at all levels of law enforcement," said Colonel James Wolfinbarger, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "These partnerships greatly enhance the public safety of all Coloradoans."
This case was investigated by the FBI‘s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Lakewood Police Department, with assistance from the Jefferson County Sheriff‘s Office, the Jefferson County Bomb Squad, the West Metro Fire and Rescue Department, and the Colorado State Patrol.
The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Holloway.