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DOJ plans to review Denver, Lakewood shooting spree to help improve response to domestic threats

Colorado's Democratic representatives requested a review from the Department of Justice in January.

DENVER — The U.S. Department of Justice said it plans to look into the shooting spree that killed five people across Denver and Lakewood in December. The review will be part of the DOJ's efforts to develop a strategy to better respond to domestic threats, according to a letter from the Office of the Inspector General to four Colorado representatives in early May.

This letter was in response to a January request from four Democratic members of Colorado's congressional delegation. Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Jason Crow, Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse asked for an investigation into the handling of prior law enforcement encounters with the suspected gunman. They wanted to know how much law enforcement knew before the shooter killed five people. 

RELATED: 4 Colorado lawmakers ask for investigation into law enforcement handling of shooting spree suspect

Perlmutter said he was expecting more specifics about this case in the letter from the Office of the Inspector General. 

"I think I was expecting more specifics about this shooter, the information that was on the radar of law enforcement, particularly FBI," he said. 

Perlmutter wants to make sure there is better communication going forward between federal partners and local agencies. Even though the letter didn't get into details about the shooting in Denver and Lakewood, Perlmutter thinks people will still be held accountable if any mistakes were made before the crime spree.

"The subtext of this letter, if you will, is 'we are aware of this,'" he said. "We are going to use this as an example of where we can do a better job communicating."

"Hopefully, internally there is more of an investigation going on and we will, as members of Congress, continue to probe," Perlmutter said.

He hopes legislation that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives this week will allow law enforcement agencies to better monitor, investigate and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism.

H.R. 350, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, would provide more resources and tools for law enforcement to combat these threats. That includes requiring the DOJ, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to provide training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in understanding and detecting acts of domestic terrorism and white supremacy. It would also codify the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, which would coordinate with United States Attorneys and other public safety officials to promote information sharing.

"Improve communication so that when there is somebody who is a real threat to the community that a lot of roadblocks are put up against that person so they can’t carry out their threats," Perlmutter said.

“The work to combat domestic terrorism is ongoing," a statement from the four representatives said in part. "We urge the Senate to take immediate action on the bill before the House today as we work to ensure law enforcement agencies at every level have the resources and tools needed to effectively detect, share information, and respond to the growing threat of domestic terrorism in this country. We will continue to engage with the Department of Justice and Office of Inspector General to ensure information-sharing protocols and procedures were followed."

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