Man Held In Colorado Mills Bombing Case

David Lawless, 30, Convicted In 2005 For Setting Off 'Dry Ice Bomb' At Shotgun Willie's Strip Club

A man is in custody in connection with the partial explosion of two crude bombs Saturday in the Borders bookstore at the Colorado Mills mall, Lakewood police said Tuesday.

Police Chief Kevin Paletta said David Joseph Lawless, 30, of Adams County, is considered the prime suspect in the Saturday bombing that caused minor damage to the Borders book store at the mall.

In 2005, Lawless pleaded guilty to explosive possession charges after setting off a homemade bomb -- dry ice mixed with water in a soda bottle -- outside Shotgun Willie's strip club in Glendale, according to court records

Lawless has not been charged in the mall bombing incident, Paletta said at an afternoon news conference. Lawless is also suspected of breaking windows at a Best Buy store near the mall, Paletta said.

Just after midnight Saturday, Lakewood police responding to a burglary alarm at Colorado Mills mall discovered that someone had broken into Borders and set off two small explosive devices. The bombs didn't explode with full force and there was minimal damage to store, FBI spokesman Dave Joly said.

Paletta said the surveillance video from Borders showed the top of a man's head in dim light, making it difficult to identify the intruder.

Only hours after the Borders bombing, Lawless was arrested in Clear Creek County on Saturday evening after he crashed his 2004 green Toyota pickup on Highway 103, said Colorado State Patrol spokesman Trooper Nate Reid. Two off-duty Arapahoe County sheriff's deputies detained Lawless until state troopers arrived.

In the crash, Lawless was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, felony menacing, reckless driving and having an open alcohol container in the car, according to court records.

Troopers learned from the Colorado Information Analysis Center, which shares information about potential terrorism threats with law enforcement agencies, that Lawless's pickup matched one used in Colorado Mills bombing, Reid said. Troopers alerted the FBI.

On Sept. 15, 2005, Lawless was arrested when a patrol officer driving through the Shotgun Willie's parking lot at 3 a.m. saw a man set down a plastic bottle, according to an arrest affidavit. As the man walked away, the bottle exploded.

The officer stopped Lawless and found his T-shirt was wet and he had a pair of blue, rubber-coated gloves in the back pocket of his pants.

When the officer asked Lawless what exploded, the man said it was a "dry ice bomb," the affidavit said. Lawless explained that he mixed water with dry ice in a 2-liter Big K diet cola bottle and building pressure caused the bottle to explode.

Lawless had a note in his pocket stating, "First Shotgun Willie's, second Saturday's, third Cheerleaders," referring to local strip clubs, the affidavit said.

The officer asked if Lawless planned to set off bombs at the other strip clubs, and he replied that he had planned to visit all the clubs on his list, too, the affidavit said. Lawless said he was acting alone.

Lawless pleaded guilty to felony possession of an explosive device and misdemeanor illegal weapon possession charges, according to court records. Prosecutors dismissed another felony explosive possession charge.

Lawless was sentenced to a deferred two-year sentence, which allowed him to avoid jail if he did not commit new violations during that time period, court records said. He was also ordered to served two years probation and 75 hours community service.

A neighbor said Lawless has been staying at his mother's home on Stacy Drive in Adams County since his father died about 18 months ago.

The neighbor, Joyce Trujillo, said she was in "total shock" about the Lawless' arrest.

"He's one of the nicest guys," she said. "He's a very giving, caring person. He would do anything for anybody. That's just the way David Lawless was."

The neighbor said Lawless came from a clean-cut family, and he had a religious upbringing.

"He would come over and help his mom," Trujillo said. "You know, take her where she needed to go. Help around the house, the yard."

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