DENVER (AP) — A former U.S. soldier accused of shooting and killing a transit guard in downtown Denver last month says he is a supporter of the Islamic State group, but investigators say they have not found evidence the terror group had anything to do with the killing.
In a telephone interview Thursday from Denver’s jail, Joshua Cummings told The Associated Press he pledged his allegiance to ISIS after spending three days behind bars fasting.
He said he did so to purge himself of an oath he took to uphold the U.S. Constitution when he joined the Army in 1996.
Speaking calmly and addressing a reporter as “ma’am”, the Islamic convert from Pampa, Texas, declined to discuss the crime or whether his support for ISIS led him, as police allege, to walk behind Scott Von Lanken while he was speaking to two women around 11 p.m. on Jan. 31 and put a gun to his neck.
One of the women told investigators Cummings said something like, “Do what you are told,” just before he opened fire and ran away, police have said.
Cummings was found a short time later hiding on the terrace of an apartment building with a handgun, authorities said.
Police have uncovered no evidence to suggest Cummings was either directed by ISIS to carry out the killing or may have been inspired by the group, Denver Police Commander Barb Archer said Friday.
She said Cummings, 37, has declined to talk with detectives and that investigators have not determined a motive for the killing of Von Lanken, a former police officer who was working as a contract security guard for the Denver area’s Regional Transportation District.
Islamic State supporters often proclaim their allegiance in social media before attacks. It is less common for them to declare it after the fact.
Cummings had been vocal on Twitter about his views about Islam as well as both critical and supportive of law enforcement.
He told the AP said he had wanted to declare his allegiance ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, earlier but an infection had prevented him from fasting.
Since his arrest, he said he received medical care in jail that gave him the ability to fast and “expiate” his prior oath.
He used the Arabic word for allegiance in making his declaration and then explained in English what he meant.
“I give my bay’ah (pledge) to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and I am committed to being a soldier for the Islamic State,” he told CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger.
“On the night in question, what I did do, I didn’t do that for the Islamic State. I did that purely and solely for the pleasure of Allah,” Cummings said.
Cummings was found a short time after the killing nearby with a gun the same caliber as the shells found at the murder scene. He was carrying Islamic literature. He says whatever he did that night was not in the name of ISIS.