Blood in streets, schools and shops

The only decision that should matter after the bloodshed and death in 2021 is this: Keep your loved ones close because gun violence is meaningless, unpredictable, and seemingly unstoppable.

A year marked by so much loss – a deadly virus that has inexorably filled morgues, an increase in homicides and murders, more opioid overdoses in a single year than ever before, a deadly ravage in a grocery store in Boulder, another in Olde Town Arvada and two high school shootings – ended last week with a cross-city shooting driven by chauvinist extremism and perceived grievances that killed five people in Denver and Lakewood.

Danny “Dano” Scofield, 38, planned to surprise his mother for Christmas, but stayed home to protect others as he had COVID-like symptoms. The tattoo artist has three children.

Alicia Cardenas owns Sol Tribe Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing. Her 12-year-old daughter will never hug her mother again.

Alyssa Gunn Maldonado, 35, was killed and her husband, Jimmy Maldonado, is in the intensive care unit. Their young son is waiting to find out if he will be orphaned. Let’s all pray that Jimmy Maldonado gets well.

Sarah Steck worked at the Belmar Hyatt House Hotel to help pay the bills while studying art in communications design at Metropolitan State University. Steck’s dream was to one day get a job in a more creative field. She graduated in the spring with hope, but died in the Hyatt House in the winter.

Shortly after Steck was killed, Lakewood police officer Ashley Ferris confronted the shooter. She did her job without hesitation and first ordered the armed man to drop his weapon, then she shot and killed the man, but not before he was able to shoot her in the stomach. Her actions saved lives, and as we try to recover, we say thank you to all the officers, troops and agents of this state, which is the last line of defense when a crazy person decides to kill.

Michael Swinyard was a skilled golfer who made a living from the construction industry. He was shot down in his own apartment near Cheesman Park. His fiance was possibly sick at the hospital at the time, and a close friend tried to get word that Swinyard was dead.

Optimism about the state of our society would be fierce at this point, even though these deaths were a rare isolated incident, but combined with the other heinous killings of 2021, we are struggling to see a future where Americans do not live in constant fear of going to school , work or run errands and never get to see their loved ones again. Instead of reviving everything America needs to do to stem this tide, we will use this time to commemorate Colorado’s great loss in 2021 with the help of Denver Post journalists and others across the state who took the time to getting to know each victim through their surviving loved ones.

Denny Stong went to work at the Boulder King Soopers on March 23 and simply never got home. As a 20-year-old, graduated from Fairview High School 2019, he was the youngest victim that day.

Neven Stanisic, 23, was about to leave the grocery store after doing a small repair job. He was shot and killed in his car. Family and friends described the candidate from Alameda International Jr./Sr. Tall as a shy boy who was a very hard worker.

Teri Leiker, 51, had worked for King Soopers since May 23, 1989. She had only missed work a few times due to illness and still called her mother every day to tell her she was safely home from work. Leiker did not call on March 23.

Rikki Olds was also killed at work that day. She was a manager at the age of 25 and had built close friendships with her colleagues while working through the pandemic to fill shifts of others who were on sick leave with COVID-19 or who were unable to work due to the risk for exposure. Her loyal colleagues stayed with her family while they waited for hours to find out if Olds would ever come home – she would not.

Tralona “Lonna” Bartkowiak was Umba or “sister” in Balinese to many in Boulder, not just her three siblings. She owned Umba Love, and those who knew her through the store described the light she brought to life. Bartkowiak was just trying to buy groceries that day.

Kevin Mahoney, 61, had just become a grandfather and had another grandson on the way when he was shot and killed in the Boulder supermarket. He had followed his daughter down the hall at her summer wedding, which the pandemic forced to be held in Mahoney’s backyard, but he failed to hold his daughter’s first baby.

Jody Waters, 65, had two daughters and a granddaughter who were the center of her world as she did not run her own small fashion stores in Boulder or help run other people’s stores. Waters was shopping for groceries when she was killed.

Suzanne Fountain, 59, worked with senior members of the Boulder community to help enroll them in Medicare and supplemental insurance, but her passion was acting, and she performed in Wit at the Nomad Theater and volunteered to support eTown Hall , a musical and theatrical non-profit organization in the city. She leaves behind her son.

Lynn Murray, 62, was the mother of two and a photo editor who worked for Condé Nast and other publications on the East Coast using her artistic abilities. Her daughter prayed that Murray would be among the survivors of the Boulder shooting. Murray did not reach out to the grocery store that day.

Eric Talley, 51, a Boulder police officer, rushed into King Soopers to try to save lives after reports of shots fired inside the store. Talley sacrificed himself in an attempt to save others. He left behind seven children and a wife.

In May, six members of the same family were shot dead at a birthday party in Colorado Springs. Killed in the heinous act of domestic violence was Melvin Perez, 30, his wife Mayra Ibarra De Perez, 33; Melvin’s brother, Jose Gutierrez, 21; and the men’s mother, Joana Cruz, 52. Also killed were Mayra’s siblings, Ibarra-Perez and Jose Ibarra, 26. Three children were left orphaned and watched the shooting and then hid in another room.

In June, a man radicalized by anti-police sentiment and driven by online videos assaulted Arvada police officer Gordon Beesley in Olde Town. Beesely’s two teenage sons never managed to say goodbye to their father, who died instantly.

Several officers could have died that day in June if Johnny Hurley had not acted nearby, wearing his permitted concealed weapon. Hurley confronted and killed the gunman. Unfortunately, a police officer mistaken Hurley for being the shooter and killed the hero moments later.

A few days later, police say several gunmen opened fire at a June celebration in Aurora, and 25-year-old Devante Love Livaudais of Arapahoe County was killed. Four other people were injured.

And gun violence found our kids this year with two school shootings in Aurora. Because the victims of the shootings were all minors and miraculously all survived – rescued by tournaments, inches and seconds – The Denver Post has not reported their names or shared their stories.

But we know that the victims of the first shooting near Aurora Central High School were three boys and two girls between the ages of 14 and 17. A sixth victim was 18 and was able to drive himself to the hospital. The road to recovery after a gunshot wound is long and can be life-changing.

A few days later, three students were shot and seriously injured at nearby Hinkley High School. All three victims were teenagers who have not been publicly identified either.

Keep your loved ones close and pray that by 2022 less blood will flow in the streets, shops and schools of Colorado.

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