Scott Von Lanken was a protector of people, as a pastor in various churches, as a police officer, as a husband and father, and as an RTD security officer in Denver.
No one knows all of that better than his wife, Shellie.
“He just had such a passion to reach out to people in this area and see their lives change,” she says, remembering the husband she lost less than 24 hours before.
Von Lanken was shot dead while on duty as an RTD guard on Tuesday. According to an affidavit, two women approached Von Lanken just after 11 p.m. to ask him whether they might be able to catch a light rail train. Just then, one of the women told police “she observed the suspect approach the victim from behind a place a gun near his neck.” The woman said “she heard the suspect say something to the effect of, ‘Do what you are told.’”
A moment later, the gunman fired.
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Scott and Shellie, who lived in Loveland, had been married for 35 years. Scott worked at least 65 hours a week to support her, and their 32-year-old twin daughters, one of whom is disabled.
“It was unbelievable that any human being could even work what he was working,” Shellie said, calling his stress tremendous. “He just worked his heart out. He would tell me, ‘If I could keep working, I would get another job just so I could provide for my family.’”
Scott was a police officer in La Crosse, Wis. when Shellie met him. He eventually felt a call to become a pastor, and he ministered in Arizona, Ohio and Colorado over a 26-year-period. He just recently took a break from his work as a pastor to spend more time at RTD, and earn money for his family.
“He always had a connection with being a police officer and pastor because he had such a heart to help people. When he was a pastor he would help people, but he felt like when he was a police officer, or security officer, he always felt like he could really help people,” Shellie said.
She describes her husband as a man who was loved by everyone, and a man who loved God “more than life itself.”
“I know very well, my husband, if he was here right now, he would tell us, and tell his daughters to forgive this man,” she said. “ I would like to know why (the shooter) would take somebody who is so loved and so needed in the family. I would like to know why he would do this. And if you could understand the pain that he caused, how somebody’s life could just be changed overnight—Never take for granted, never, the people you love because you don’t know if you’re going to see them tomorrow."
If you’re interested in helping the family, a Scott Von Lanken Memorial Fund has been set up through the Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Credit Union. The number there is 303-458-6660.