By Colleen Slevin, The Associated Press
Police were investigating Tuesday after a gunman went on a shooting rampage through several business districts in the Denver area, killing four people and wounding three others, including an officer as police pursued him.
The suspect also died Monday night after exchanging gunfire with officers in a shopping district in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, police said.
Police have not released the names of the suspect or the victims, but family members have identified one of the victims Tuesday as Alicia Cardenas, 44, who was killed in the initial shooting.
Alfredo Cardenas told KMGH-TV that Alicia Cardenas, his only daughter, owned her first tattoo shop when she was 19. She owned Sol Tribe Tattoo and had worked at the Broadway location for 15 to 20 years.
“Very gregarious, very friendly, but she was a very determined person,” he said. “She knew where she was going.”
Alicia Cardenas is survived by her 12-year-old, Alfredo Cardenas said.
Friends and family said on both social media and through a GoFundMe that fellow Sol Tribe tattoo artist Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado was also killed, while her husband — Sol Tribe piercer Jimmy Maldonado — was wounded.
The tattoo shop, located on South Broadway, is well respected in Denver. Several neighboring business, including Mutiny Information Cafe and Femme Fatale, decided to close Tuesday following the shooting.
Police said they were still investigating what led to the shootings, which mostly happened in commercial areas.
“We need to dig in and find out what the motive was behind this,” Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said at a news conference.
In the meantime, friends, family, clients and fellow tattoo artists and piercers have all taken to social media to express grief over the shooting and those who were killed.
The shootings started shortly after 5 p.m. in central Denver along Broadway, a busy street lined by shops, bars and restaurants, where two women were killed and a man was injured, Pazen said. On Tuesday, candles and flower bouquets rested in the doorway of a nearby tattoo shop.
A short time later, a man was fatally shot in another location, Pazen said. Gunshots were also fired along another busy street near Denver Health hospital, but no one was injured, he said.
Later, Denver police chased the vehicle believed to have been involved in the shootings and exchanged gunfire with the person inside, but the suspect was able to get away after “disabling” the police car, Pazen said. The suspect then fled into Lakewood, Pazen said.
Just before 6 p.m., the Lakewood Police Department received a report of shots fired at a business in Lakewood, said John Romero, a spokesman for that department.
A gunshot victim was later found and pronounced dead at the scene, Romero said.
When officers found the car suspected of being involved in the Belmar shopping area, the suspect opened fire and officers shot back. The suspect ran away and allegedly threatened someone in a business with a gun before going into a Hyatt hotel and shooting a clerk, who was taken to the hospital, Romero said. The hotel clerk’s condition was not known.
The gunman then fled on foot to a Hyatt hotel, where he is believed to have shot a clerk. He also shot and wounded a Lakewood police officer after he left the hotel, Romero said.
The wounded officer was undergoing surgery Monday night and his condition was not immediately known.
After the officer was wounded, police and the suspect exchanged fire and the suspect died, Romero said. It was not immediately clear if police officers had shot him.
“This one individual was responsible for this very violent crime spree that took place this evening,” Pazen said.
On Tuesday, in Lakewood’s Belmar shopping district, where shops line sidewalks in a modern version of a downtown, plywood covered some of the windows of a wood-fired pizza restaurant where workers were cleaning up inside. Investigators also were checking the aluminum window frame of a store for bullet holes. Nearby on the street, which was decorated with large, silver holiday ornaments, sat an older two-door Honda Civic with a bullet through the hood and a flat front tire.
Associated Press photographer David Zalubowski contributed to this report. The Colorado Sun contributed to this report.