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'Was always so proud of her': Brother of Denver-Lakewood mass shooting victim shares hope for future

Brother of victim in Denver metro shooting rampage speaks
Posted at 10:58 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 07:16:26-05

DENVER — As more information continues to surface about the gunman who robbed five people of their lives, those closest to tragedy are left wondering if anything could've been done to prevent the rampage from happening.

"It's starting to get us a little angry as to why this was allowed to happen," said Al Cardenas, Alicia Cardenas' brother.

Alicia Cardenas was one of five victims killed during the Dec. 27 shooting spree.

Denver police have confirmed the shooter was investigated twice in the past two years. On Monday, the agency also confirmed they received a tip back in Jan. 2021 from a man overseas who was concerned about the shooter's online statements.

It's also been confirmed that Alicia Cardenas was one of two victims directly named in the gunman's self-published writings.

"If something could have been done, something should have been done," Al Cardenas said. "That's what angers me. Because the state is taking measures to prevent this sort of thing yet they're failing."

Denver police are now reviewing their initial investigation of the incident.

"My dad and I are absolutely heartbroken for all those other victims and their families. I've reached out to a couple of them just to let them know we're thinking about them," Al Cardenas said.

Less than two weeks from the horrific shooting, Al Cardenas is trying to multitask: He's asking questions to authorities while also focusing on his sister's legacy to ensure her wishes are fulfilled.

"I'm getting her daughter taken care of. We are starting a trust for her and to get her estate taken care of," he said.

Alicia Cardenas owned Sol Tribe Tattoo and Piercing. Her brother said he's hopeful the shop can continue.

"We do want to find out what she wanted to do with it and do what we can to facilitate it moving forward... If it has to move, it has to move," he said. "There are other employees, managers that we need to talk to and decide what they want to do with it. It's such a great place... it's such a comforting place. It has such a legacy that I just don't see it going away."

Al Cardenas said his sister's creativity started during childhood, and she loved to dance and sing. He said her talent for visual arts was always there, too.

During adulthood, tattoo artistry became a way for Alicia Cardenas to connect with her Indigenous Chicana ancestry. She became a well-known and celebrated tattoo artist in the state but quickly expanded her skill set to murals and ceremonial dance. All of it pointed back to her indigenous roots.

"She was basically making her mark in that community. She has a lot of friends, a lot of family in that community," the brother said.

Al Cardenas said his sister showed an immediate talent in her mural work.

"It just sort of came out of nowhere where we were like, wow, she is actually awesome at this," he said.

He remembered his sister's most important role as a mother, especially to those who needed one.

"She took that role of taking care of people, you know, it wasn't even a question with her," Al Cardenas said. "She would absolutely do something to help somebody, especially in marginalized communities.

Al Cardenas, like his sister, is a creative in his own right, working in automotive restoration.

"Those old Corvettes are so... so beautiful, and look at the new Blazer model — it's pretty darn cool," he said with a grin. "Seeing these things come back to life is really something I love doing."

Sadly, he cannot bring back his sister's physical presence to those who long for it most, but he's committed to honoring her legacy the rest of his days. Like brother, like sister.

"I was always so proud of her, and I always brag about her work... I always have bragged about what she did and what she was into and who she was," Al Cardenas said. "And she was proud of me."