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Convicted Book Store Attempted Bomber Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison

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David Joseph Lawless (credit: Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office)

David Joseph Lawless (credit: Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office)

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DENVER (CBS4)- The man who pleaded guilty to planting a bomb inside the Borders bookstore at the Colorado Mills mall was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on Thursday.

David Lawless pleaded guilty to the attempted bombing on Oct. 4. The specific charge was use of a destructive device during a crime of violence.

At 12:38 a.m. on June 25, 2011 police in Lakewood rushed to the Borders bookstore in the Colorado Mills mall after an alarm was activated.

Police arrived to find the entrance/exit door to the bookstore was shattered. While securing the store officers discovered two suspected explosive devices inside.

The Jefferson County Bomb Squad responded and located a total of three suspected explosive devices. The first was located outside the mall near the entrance to the bookstore and two others were found inside the store.

The device located outside the store was found in one of the garbage containers and had partially exploded.

During their investigation the FBI and the ATF found what appeared to be blood at the bookstore. A review of security camera footage showed what appeared to be a white man breaking into the glass entrance door and that person injured his hand.

FBI agents investigate devices found in the Borders bookstore at the Colorado Mills Mall June 2011. (credit: CBS)

FBI agents investigate devices found in the Borders bookstore at the Colorado Mills Mall June 2011. (credit: CBS)

On the same day, at 8:05 a.m. the FBI was notified by police in Lakewood that several of the front windows of a Best Buy store located just ½ mile away from the bookstore were smashed open from the outside.

At 12:52 a.m. outdoor video surveillance showed a white man driving a green Toyota Tacoma drive in and out of camera view. No evidence of arson or a destructive device was recovered from the Best Buy.

About 2:54 a.m. 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 about ½ mile from the Best Buy and about one mile from the bookstore.

Deputies at the hotel recovered what appeared to be a crude device that FBI agents examined. During the investigation deputies found outdoor surveillance cameras near the mall which showed a dark-colored Toyota Tacoma.

About 6:37 p.m. the Colorado State Patrol responded to a one-car crash on Colorado 103 at mile post 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, 32. He appeared to be intoxicated and attempted to stab the deputies with scissors while they were detaining him.

Lawless was arrested by state troopers for suspicion of DUI and felony menacing. Lawless also had an injury to his hand which was consistent with the injury to the person who broke into the Borders bookstore.

Lawless 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.

It was later 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.”

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