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'Beautiful soul gone too soon': Tuesday marks 1 year since Denver-Lakewood shootings that left 5 dead

Denver Shooting
Posted at 4:00 AM, Dec 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-28 11:16:29-05

One year has passed since a gunman killed five people and injured three others in a series of shootings that began in Denver and ended in Lakewood.

The violence rocked the communities just two days after Christmas Day in 2021. The five people killed were remembered as trailblazers, creatives, parents, and beautiful, passionate souls. The gunman was killed at one of the scenes.

The details on the shooting are at the bottom of this story.

Tuesday marks 1 year since Denver-Lakewood shootings that left 5 dead

Below are the victims in this shooting, as Denver7 reported in the wake of the tragedy.

Alicia Cardenas

The day after the shooting, 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," her friend Aloria Weaver told Denver7.

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. The GoFundMe was still open as of Monday afternoon.

Angel Macauley, who owns Femme Fatale Intimates a few doors down from Sol Tribe, told Denver7 in December 2021 that 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."

READ MORE: Denver mass shooting victim, Alicia Cardenas, honored as part of special exhibit at History Colorado Center

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.

Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado

One of the two people shot at 1st and Broadway was Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado, 35, who died of her injuries. Her husband, a Sol Tribe artist, was injured.

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

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 in December 2021. It is still open to donations as of Monday afternoon.

Her husband survived his injuries after spending time in a hospital ICU.

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 from December 2021, the shop described him as "an awesome human being, a great father, son and brother."

One of his friends, Joshua Clement, wrote in a GoFundMe that Danny made a huge impact on everyone he met and lived his life to the fullest.

READ MORE: Tattoo artist confirmed as one of the victims in deadly shooting rampage

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 left behind three children.

You can contribute to the two verified GoFundMe accounts set up to support him. Click here for one, and here for the second — both remain open to donations as of Monday afternoon.

Sarah Steck

Sarah Steck_killed in shooting

Sarah Steck, 28, was working as the hotel clerk at the Hyatt House in Lakewood 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.

Ryan Steck, Sarah's brother, spoke out for the first time in a statement to Denver7. His statement 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 was set up to help Steck's family.

"She was loved and touched so many people's lives," the GoFundMe reads.

In February 2022, the family issued this statement: "Our family would like to sincerely thank each and every one of you for the generous donations you have made during this difficult time. Words can't begin to describe the overwhelming feeling of love and support knowing that Sarah had such a positive impact on so many people and the community. Every single donor will forever hold a special place in our hearts and we want to thank you for the kind heartfelt messages it's making the grieving process a little easier. Thank you."

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.

According to The Denver Post, Swinyard as a builder in Denver and was remembered by his friends as a quiet, but good friend.

He was 67 years old.

What happened that day

Around 5:25 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2021, the suspect opened fire at 1st Avenue and Broadway in Denver, killing two people — later identified as Alicia Cardenas and Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado — and injuring Gunn-Maldonado's husband.

Officers were then dispatched to a shooting at 5:31 p.m. at W. 6th Avenue and Cherokee Street, where the suspect shot at residents of a home but did not injure anybody.

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 the suspect shot Michael Swinyard.

At 5:49 p.m., police identified the suspect's vehicle around 8th Avenue and Zuni Street, and they pursued the driver. One officer exchanged gunfire with the suspect and nobody was injured. The suspect continued driving on Interstate 25 and went into Lakewood.

At 5:58 p.m., Lakewood police learned about a shooting at Lucky 13 Tattoo, along the 1500 block of Kipling. When officers responded, they found Danny Scofield, 38, with a gunshot wound. He died of his injuries at the scene.

Lakewood police spotted the suspect's vehicle at the Belmar shopping area and tried to contact the driver, who shot at police. The officers returned fire.

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. He had a brief conversation with a person at the front desk, shot a hotel clerk several times, and fled again, according to police. The hotel clerk was taken to a hospital, where she died. She was later identified as Sarah Steck, 28.

After leaving the hotel, the suspect was confronted by 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. Ferris was wearing a vest. Even after being injured, she composed herself and returned fire, striking and killing the suspect.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been on law enforcement's radar. 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.

Ferris recovered and was released from the hospital on Jan. 6.

On Friday, John Romero, spokesperson with the Lakewood Police Department, said Ferris is not yet back to full patrol, but is "doing fantastic."