Joshua Cummings is going to serve life in prison for the brutal murder of a pastor in Denver, Colorado. Cummings was sentenced hours after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. The crime occurred on January 31, 2017.
A jury found that the Muslim ISIS convert acted in a premeditated manner when he approached Scott Von Lanken as he was working. Von Lanken had taken a contract to work as a security guard for the Regional Transportation District of Denver.
Cummings at one point was a member of the United States military. For reasons unknown, he left the service and started to follow the Muslim faith. He also quickly turned to supporting the terrorist activities of ISIS.
While some within the Muslim faith may have ties to radical views and even activities, Cummings seemed to be even too much for the local mosque to understand.
At some point, a leader from a mosque in Denver emailed the Department of Homeland Security to share their concerns about Cummings.
It is not clear if Cummings was being tracked by the Department of Homeland Security after they were notified of the danger.
Before the killing, the suspect began to make horrifying statements to others at the mosque. He was pushing the idea that it was time to force Shariah law on Americans.
He went as far as describing those who did not buy into the radical ideas as being “soft.”
Von Lanken was 56-years-old at the time of the murder. Beyond his time as a contract security guard, he was also a policeman in a prior job.
In his off time from working, Von Lanken was also a well-respected pastor in Colorado. There is no indication that Cummings targeted Von Lanken for this reason.
On the night that Von Lanken was shot, he had stopped to help two women at an area transit center.
As he stood talking to them, Cummings approached the group from behind and held a gun to the guard’s neck. He fired a round into Von Lanken’s neck that proved to be fatal.
After killing the security guard at almost point blank range, Cummings turned to the two women. He instructed them to do as they were told and then opened fire. Both women were able to escape with no physical injuries.
After opening fire on the women, the suspect ran from the scene. He was found a short time later hiding on a deck of a local apartment complex.
When Cummings was taken into custody, he openly admitted to being connected to ISIS. He shared with the police interviewing that he had recently converted to Islam and was also a part of ISIS. Authorities shared that they have no evidence that says he was backed by ISIS in regards to this killing.
Cummings was in the Army starting is 1996. He was at one point on active duty but did not see combat. He did, however, receive military level training during a term with the Army.
After pledging his support for ISIS, the suspect took that commitment one step further. During the first three days that he was in jail for the murder, he went on a fast to cleanse his body to prepare it to be committed to ISIS. He felt the need to purge after being forced to take an oath during court to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
Cummings was not happy to have to swear in court for anything except his ties to Allah or ISIS.
With the help of his attorney, Cummings chose to take his case to trial. This was not a lengthy trial by any means; it was pretty clear what had happened.
The full court case unfolded over the course of three days. The jury deliberation took three hours in total.
There was very little to discuss with regard to guilt or innocence in this case. It was apparent who the killer was and why he claimed to do such a horrific thing.
The judge, in this case, sentenced Cummings to life in prison. This was done within just a few hours of the guilty verdict.
Cummings has no hope for parole; the judge made it clear that he will spend the rest of his life paying for the crime. This does little to change the hole left by the murder of Von Lanken.
It does give the family a certain level of closer as the suspect will pay for the crime for many years to come.