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‘Like nobody you’d ever met’: Family, friends remember beloved victims killed in shootings Monday

Denver Shooting
Denver and Lakewood shooting spree Dec 27 2021 2
Denver and Lakewood shooting spree Dec 27 2021 3
Posted at 11:07 AM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-30 08:26:11-05

Following multiple shootings Monday evening that ended with six people dead, including the suspect, and three injured in Denver and Lakewood, family and friends are starting to share their beloved memories of the victims.

The gunman harbored extremist views and had a history of psychiatric episodes, multiple law enforcement sources confirmed with ABC News Tuesday.

"This is the holiday season. To have this type of spree take place is not normal for our community," said Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen. "We cannot lose sight of the victims in this, the people that are still fighting for their lives, including a Lakewood agent."

If you would like to help the victims, we have a list of ways here.

Alicia Cardenas

On Tuesday morning, Alfredo Cardenas told Denver7 his daughter, Alicia Cardenas, 44, was one of the two women killed at Broadway and 1st Avenue, which was where the string of shootings began. He said Alicia was his only daughter.

Alicia Cardenas_killed in shooting spree Dec 27 2021

Alicia owned Sol Tribe Tattoo & Piercing, which is nearby. According to her bio page on the company's website, she was a "proud Indigenous artist born and raised in the city who’s been working in the Denver body modification industry for nearly her entire life." She was passionate about volunteering and giving back to her community, the website reads.

“She was a beacon of light for an enormous number of marginalized people, a fierce warrior and leader," said her friend Aloria Weaver.

READ MORE: Denver's tattoo community mourns loss of two women killed in Denver-Lakewood mass shooting

Weaver created a GoFundMe to support Alicia's 12-year-old child.

Angel Macauley, who owns Femme Fatale Intimates a few doors down from Sol Tribe, said Alicia was a huge part of the block.

"It's just such a senseless act of violence that you just wouldn't think would happen so close to where we are," she said.

Sol Tribe Tattoo & Piercing shooting Dec 27 2021

Macauley called Alicia a "firecracker" and "leader" with a "powerful voice."

"She was just such an impact on women, the Native community — I'm hoping that her art continues to live forever," she said.

Alfredo Cardenas said his daughter owned her first tattoo shop when she was 19 years old and then moved into the new space, where she had worked for 15 to 20 years. It has a "tremendous reputation," he said.

She was like nobody you'd ever met, he said.

"Very gregarious, very friendly, but she was a very determined person," he said. "She knew where she was going."

She was also a mural artist, he said, and there are multiple art murals around town with her name on them.

"She was a real leader in her community. A lot of people look to her for advice and information about tattooing and a lot about the hygiene of tattooing and she kind of pioneered that," Alfredo Cardenas said. "But she had friends all over the world. She literally has gone all over the world, well, over over the oceans anyway, giving workshops on tattoo hygiene and that sort of stuff. She will be very sorely missed."

Alfredo Cardenas said his son came by his home in the middle of the night and told him he had heard about a shooting on social media.

"There's a real tight community amongst the tattoo people and he was in connection with them," Alfredo Cardenas said.

She served on the board of directors for the Association of Professional Piercers up until her death.

Alfredo Cardenas said he is struggling to absorb the fact that his daughter had been killed.

"It's a shock to everybody," he said. "It was obviously senseless."

She leaves behind a 12-year-old child, her father said.

Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado

The other two people shot at 1st and Broadway were identified as a Sol Tribe artist who is in the ICU (Denver7 is not identifying him) and his wife Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado, 35, who died of her injuries.

She is remembered for her impact on the tattoo and yoga community.

READ MORE: Denver's tattoo community mourns loss of two women killed in Denver-Lakewood mass shooting

Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado copy.jpg

A verified GoFundMe was created for the family to help with funeral costs, medical bills and support for the couple's son.

Her husband is expected to survive his injuries.

Danny Scofield

Danny Scofield

Danny Scofield, 38, was shot and killed at Lucky 13 Tattoo, located in the 1500 block of Kipling in Lakewood. He was a tattoo artist at the shop.

He went by Dano Blair.

In an Instagram post, the shop described him as "an awesome human being, a great father, son and brother."

Cody McLaughlin, Scofield's ex-wife, said he loved everyone no matter what their story was or where they were from. He was a family man, she said.

"He was a part of a really big community, in the tattoo community," she said. "He touched a lot of lives."

She said the suspect "robbed us of a beautiful soul." Scofield leaves behind three children.

You can contribute to the two verified GoFundMe accunts set up to support him. Click here for one, and here for the second.

Sarah Steck

Sarah Steck_killed in shooting

Sarah Steck, 28, was working as the hotel clerk at the Hyatt House in Lakewood Monday night when the suspect entered the hotel and shot her multiple times.

"Colleagues and guests knew Sarah for her infectious laugh and her love of kittens, art and music — especially Blink-182," Andra Alvarez, general manager of the Hyatt House Denver/Lakewood at Belmar, said in a statement. "But most of all, Sarah loved her boyfriend, family and friends. We will miss her terribly, and our hearts go out to Sarah’s family and friends as well as the families and friends of all the victims of the horrific act of violence that occurred on Dec. 27, 2021."

She was transported to the hospital, and passed away from her injuries Tuesday.

Ryan Steck, Sarah's brother, spoke out for the first time in a statement to Denver7. It says in part: ""Sarah ... was just an all around great human being as well as a role model to a bunch of people including me. She was a beautiful and kind loving person. A girl who would go out of her way to help out a person in need without hesitation. Sarah was the best big sister I could have ever asked for. Truly a beautiful soul gone too soon. My family and I send our condolences to the other victims families in this tragedy."

A verified GoFundMe has been set up to help Steck's family.

"She was loved and touched so many peoples lives," the GoFundMe reads.

Michael Swinyard

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner identified Swinyard as the person who was killed along the 1200 block of N. Williams Street in Denver.

He was 67 years old.


The above section will be updated as family and friends choose to share stories of the victims.


Background

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen and John Romero, public information officer with the Lakewood Police Department, provided an update on the shooting Monday evening, and Lakewood provided a follow-up press conference on Tuesday afternoon. They said the suspect's motivation for the shooting isn't clear yet. They also stressed that there is no threat to the public.

The shootings began around 5:25 p.m. Monday, when the suspect shot three people near 1st Avenue and Broadway in Denver. Two of the injured people — who have since been identified as Alicia Cardenas and Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado — were killed and Gunn-Maldonado's husband was injured, police said. Both women died at the scene.

At 5:31 p.m., police responded to call of a man trying to get into a home at W. 6th Avenue and Cherokee Street. The suspect shot at the residents, but nobody was injured. The suspect may have set a nearby van on fire.

Afterward, Denver police were dispatched at 5:45 p.m. to a third shooting at One Cheesman Place on the north side of Cheesman Park, where one man was pronounced deceased. He was later identified as Michael Swinyard.

Condo apt shot at during Dec. 27 2021 shooting rampage_near cheesman park
A glass door was shattered in a shooting on Dec. 27, 2021 at One Cheesman Place. A man was killed at this location amid a string of fatal shootings in Denver and Lakewood.

Police identified the vehicle associated with all three shootings around 8th Avenue and Zuni Street at 5:49 p.m. Police pursued the driver and one officer exchanged gunfire with the suspect, police said. No officers were injured in this shooting. The suspect driver disabled a police car with his gun and fled into Lakewood on Interstate 25, police said.

At 5:58 p.m., Lakewood police received a call about a shooting at Lucky 13 Tattoo, located along the 1500 block of Kipling. Officers responded and a person — who has since been identified as Danny Scofield, 38 — was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Police were able to gather a description for the suspect and the vehicle, and Lakewood police spotted it in the Belmar shopping area a short time later.

Lakewood police tried to contact the driver, but the suspect shot at police, who returned fire, police said.

Denver Shooting
Investigators recover evidence from a window frame outside an Xfinity store Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Lakewood, Colo., one of the scenes of a shooting spree that left several people dead—including the suspected shooter Monday evening—and left a few more people wounded. The spree spread from the core of Denver to the western suburb of Lakewood where the suspect was shot and killed by police near a busy intersection in a bustling shopping district. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The suspect then fled on foot into the shopping area, menaced a business with a firearm, and retreated into the Hyatt House at 6:10 p.m. The suspect had a brief conversation with a person at the front desk and then shot a hotel clerk several times before fleeing again, according to police. The hotel clerk was taken to a hospital, and died from her injuries Tuesday. She was later identified as Sarah Steck, 28.

After leaving the hotel, the suspect was confronted by an officer, identified Wednesday as Lakewood Agent Ashley Ferris, around S. Vance Street and W. Alaska Drive. Ferris ordered the suspect to lower his weapon, but the suspect instead opened fire, striking her in the abdomen, police said. Ferris was wearing a vest. Even after being injured, the she composed herself and returned fire, striking and killing the suspect, police said.

Ferris, who has been on the force for three years, was transported to a hospital for surgery. She is expected to make a full recovery, but will need several surgeries.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been on law enforcement's radar, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said. Two investigations — in 2020 and early 2021 — did not result in state or federal charges. He harbored extremist views and had a history of psychiatric episodes, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News.

According to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, the suspect was never licensed as a tattoo artist or a body artist.

Police said they believe the victims and suspect knew each other, and that the gunman was targeting at least some of his victims.

The front house manager of the Rock Wood Fire Pizza in Belmar, Tyler Gunderson, said he stepped out the back door and heard gunshots around 6:15 or 6:30 p.m. — right as Monday Night Football started, he said.

"The tables were already flipped and people were running toward the back," he recalled.

He said his staff helped move people into the back of the restaurant, where they hid in bathrooms, the beer cooler and upstairs.

Denver Shooting
Leftover police tape is wrapped around a pole to block off the sidewalk by a pizza parlor Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021 in Lakewood, Colo., near one of the scenes of a shooting spree that left five people dead—including the suspected shooter Monday evening—and left three more people wounded. The spree spread from the core of Denver to the western suburb of Lakewood where the suspect was shot and killed by police near a busy intersection in a bustling shopping district. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The area was on lockdown for a few hours, Gunderson said. The customers were the first to leave once authorities gave an all-clear.

"I'm amazed by how my staff reacted," he said. "And some of the customers — everybody kind of held their stuff together. None of my staff was crying or freaking out during it. They all were making sure customers were OK. Once everything died down, we gave everybody waters and gave them some to-go food that wasn't going to be delivered, obviously."

He said he wants to tell Belmar customers that it's still a safe area to visit.

"Everyone did what we could to keep everybody safe. And you know, love to everybody, man," Gunderson said.

This is a developing story. Stay with Denver7 for updates.