Tattoo artist Brian Pattison has been found guilty of killing Shane Richardson last year, then starting a fire that closed Rosenberg's Bagels & Deli, an iconic eatery located in the same structure, for months. Prosecutors say Pattison came to Denver from his home in Colorado Springs for a "tattoo party" at Richardson's place that went terribly wrong, and surveillance footage from Rosenberg's proved key in solving the case.
The Denver Fire Department responded to reports of a blaze on the second floor of the Rosenberg's building early on May 2, 2016, and while extinguishing it, they found Richardson.
His body was located in a closet, and it may have been there for days before its discovery, as sketched out in an arrest affidavit accessible below.
Few additional details were made public in the immediate aftermath of the crime, and weeks passed before May 26, when the Denver District Attorney's Office announced formal charges against Pattison that included first-degree murder, first-degree arson and multiple counts of possession of a weapon by a previous offender.
Pattison's criminal history dates back to 2005 and includes charges of drug possession, burglary and carrying a concealed weapon.
Not that Pattison was on the loose this entire time. The last post on his now-deleted Facebook page was shared on May 16, and it revealed that he was already behind bars in Las Animas County at that time and expected he would soon be headed to the Big House. The item reads:
I'm currently in jail and will go back to prison. Write me at Brian Scott Pattison. 2309 E. Main. Trinidad CO 81082. That's the jail.
Pattison was Facebook friends with Richardson, whose own page was listed under the moniker Shane Blackardson; it's been turned into an online memorial. Richardson was an adventurer whose passions included paragliding. This post shared after his death speaks volumes:
You taught me the courage of stars before you left.
How light carries on endlessly, even after death.
With shortness of breath, you explained the infinite.
How rare and beautiful it is to even exist.
RIP Shane Blackardson
On his own Facebook page, Pattison showcased his tattoo work — and he ostensibly got together with Richardson on April 29 to finish a tat that was already in progress.
The affidavit maintains that a security camera at Rosenberg's showed the two of them entering and exiting the building multiple times on the 29th. But as of the next day, only Pattison was moving in and out — and on several occasions, he was carrying assorted items belonging to Richardson, including a guitar case, several large bags and backpacks and a large flat-screen television.
The morning of the 30th, surveillance footage showed Pattison departing. But he came back just after 10 p.m. on May 1 in the company of an unknown person — and he was carrying "something in his hand which was concealed with a jacket," the police report states. They left shortly thereafter, and minutes later, the security cam recorded the first evidence of a fire inside the building.
It took another week before investigators zeroed in on Pattison, who had been arrested after being stopped for speeding by a Colorado state trooper on May 4. In addition to traffic charges against him, Pattison was accused of criminal impersonation — and he had a Ruger .380 caliber pistol in his pants pocket. The weapon was later traced to Richardson; it had been a gift from his father.
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More evidence against Pattison: His mom, with whom he was living at the time, said that after he returned from Denver, he had a flat-screen TV and other items — and he had claimed that his tattoo client had given them to him as payment in lieu of cash.
During an interview with police from the Las Animas County jail, Pattison insisted that Richardson had still been alive when he'd seen him last and tried to implicate his roommate, whom he described as a drug dealer. But the roomie, whose name is blacked out in the document, didn't appear anywhere in the surveillance footage from Rosenberg's.
That was more than enough for the jury. After a seven-day trial, Pattison was convicted of first-degree murder and arson. His sentencing hearing is pending.
Click to read the Bruce Pattison arrest affidavit.