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Man accused in shooting death of RTD security officer charged with first-degree murder

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Posted at 10:21 AM, Feb 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 12:30:42-05

DENVER – The suspect in the shooting death of a Denver transit security guard Tuesday night near Union Station was charged with first-degree murder Friday morning in Denver District Court.

Joshua Cummings, 37, his face still swollen from what Denver District Attorney Beth McCann called an infection, uttered only two words during the hearing when he told the judge, “Yes sir,” when asked if he understood his rights.

Cummings wore a red jail jumpsuit and he still donned the long, scraggly hair and beard he wore in his mugshot.

He faces one count of first-degree murder for allegedly shooting and killing RTD security officer Scott Von Lanken, 56, Tuesday night. Cummings was arrested nearby shortly after the shooting.

The short hearing ended with Cummings asking his attorney to help get him a copy of the Quran.

Cummings is a Muslim revert who converted to Islam at some point in the past several years. He is believed to have moved to the Denver area from Pampa, Texas last fall, and had been living at an Englewood motel with his wife and at least one child.

But McCann said Cummings' wife had not interviewed with the district attorney's office, and that she believed Cummings has two daughters.

Denver’s Muslim community had tipped Homeland Security officials off in late December that Cummings was “very radicalized” after he showed up to two mosque events and exhibited concerning behavior.

In a short press conference after the hearing, McCann referred questions about him possibly being on the radar of local and federal officials to federal investigators.

She said the case was the most tragic and important case in the few months since she took office.

Press cameras were not allowed in the hearing. He is next scheduled in court March 3 for his preliminary hearing.

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