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Editorial: Blood in the streets, schools and stores

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Editorial: Blood in the streets, schools and stores

The only resolution that should matter following the bloodshed and death of 2021 is this: Hold your loved ones close because gun violence is senseless, unpredictable, and seemingly unstoppable.

A year marked by so much loss — a deadly virus that has relentlessly filled morgues, an uptick in homicides and murders, more opioid overdoses in a single year than ever before, a deadly rampage at a grocery store in Boulder, another in Olde Town Arvada and two high school shootings — ended last week with a cross-city shooting spree fueled by chauvinist extremism and perceived grievances, killing five people in Denver and Lakewood.

Danny “Dano” Scofield, 38, was planning to surprise his mother for Christmas but stayed home to protect others when 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 again get to hug her mother.

Alyssa Gunn Maldonado, 35, was killed and her husband, Jimmy Maldonado, is in the ICU. Their young son is waiting to find out if he’ll be an orphan. Let’s all pray that Jimmy Maldonado recovers.

Sarah Steck worked at the Belmar Hyatt House hotel to help pay the bills while she studied fine art in communication design at Metropolitan State University. Steck’s dream was to one day land a job in a more creative field. She graduated in the spring with hope but died at the Hyatt House in the winter.

Shortly after Steck was killed, Lakewood Police agent Ashley Ferris confronted the shooter. Doing her job without hesitation, she 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 pull for her recovery, we say thanks to all the officers, troopers and agents in this state who are the last line of defense when a crazed person decides to kill.

Michael Swinyard was a skilled golfer who made a living in the construction industry. He was gunned down in his own apartment near Cheesman Park. His fiancé may have been sick in the hospital at the time and a close friend tried to get word to her that Swinyard was dead.

Optimism about the state of our society would be hard at this point, even if these deaths were a rare isolated incident, but combined with the other heinous killings in 2021, we struggle to see a future where Americans don’t live in constant fear of going to school, work or running errands and never getting to see their loved ones again. Instead of rehashing all that America must do to stem this tide, we’ll spend this time memorializing Colorado’s great losses in 2021 with the help of Denver Post journalists and others across the state who took time to get 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 came home. At 20 years old, the Fairview High School 2019 graduate, he was the youngest victim that day.

Neven Stanisic, 23, was leaving the grocery store after having completed a small repair job. He was shot and killed in his car. Family and friends described the graduate of Alameda International Jr./Sr. High as a shy boy who was a very hard worker.

Teri Leiker, 51, had worked at King Soopers since May 23, 1989. She had only missed work a few times because of illness and still called her mom every day to let her know she was safely home from work. Leiker did not make that 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 as they labored through the pandemic to fill shifts of others who were out sick with COVID-19 or who were unable to work because of the risk of exposure. Her loyal coworkers stayed with her family as they waited hours to learn whether Olds would ever come home – she wouldn’t.

Tralona “Lonna” Bartkowiak was an 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 shop 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 grandchild on the way when he was shot and killed in the Boulder supermarket. He had walked his daughter down the aisle at her summer wedding that the pandemic forced to be held in Mahoney’s backyard, but he did not get to hold his daughter’s first baby.

Jody Waters, 65, had two daughters and a grandson that were the center of her world when she wasn’t running her own small fashion stores in Boulder or helping run the stores of others. Waters was shopping for groceries when she was killed.

Suzanne Fountain, 59, worked with older members of the Boulder community to help enroll them for Medicare and supplemental insurance, but her passion was acting and she performed in Wit at the Nomad Theater and volunteered for and supported eTown Hall, a musical and theatrical nonprofit in town. She is survived by her son.

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

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

In May, six members of the same family were gunned down at a birthday party in Colorado Springs. Killed in the heinous act of domestic violence were 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 witnessed the shooting and then hid in another room.

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

More officers might have died that day in June had not Johnny Hurley been shopping nearby, wearing his permitted concealed weapon. Hurley confronted and killed the gunman. Unfortunately, a police officer mistook Hurley for the shooter and killed the hero moments later.

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

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

But, we know 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 bullet wound is long and can be life-altering.

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

Hold your loved ones close and pray that 2022 sees less blood flowing in the streets, stores and schools of Colorado.

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DJ LeMahieu confident he can avoid trip to injured list

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DJ LeMahieu confident he can avoid trip to injured list

ST. PETERSBURG — DJ LeMahieu was able to hit after Thursday night’s Yankees win and is fairly confident he will be able to avoid the injured list.

“I don’t want to get too excited, but it’s definitely felt better as the day has gone on,” LeMahieu said. “I think that cortisone finally just took.”

LeMahieu had a cortisone shot in his left wrist on Tuesday. Before Thursday’s game he said the wrist had not improved enough. He admitted he might need to go on the IL. Thursday night, he was not available off the bench and the Yankees had just catcher Kyle Higashioka available.

“DJ was not available. Although it sounds like he’s doing a lot better in literally the last two hours,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So we’ll see where we’re at. Kind of get together again tonight and see where we’re at in the morning.”

HICKS SCRATCHED

Aaron Hicks felt his right hamstring tighten during Wednesday’s game against the Orioles in the Bronx, but still tried to play Thursday. He had to be scratched less than an hour before first pitch, but he thinks he will be able to play on Friday.

“I definitely feel like I’ll be able to be there tomorrow and that’s what I’m planning on doing,” Hicks said.

The center fielder said he first felt it running to first base Wednesday. Boone said he asked Hicks to try and play Thursday, but after treatment he could not run at full speed.

The Yankees have gone through a bunch of injuries lately. Third baseman Josh Donaldson is on the COVID IL with a respiratory illness. Giancarlo Stanton is on the IL with an ankle injury.

NICE TO MEET YOU, YOU’RE BATTING EIGHTH

Matt Carpenter barely had time to put his bag down when he was called into a hitters meeting. The Yankees signed the former Cardinal and three-time All-Star before Thursday night’s game and when Hicks was scratched, he got rushed into the lineup.

“It was pretty crazy, I think I landed (in Tampa) at 3:20,” Carpenter said. “To be part of a huge win right away is pretty cool.”

Carpenter got hit by a pitch in the sixth and came around to score the Yankees first run of the night.

BRITTON AND GERMAN UPDATE

Zack Britton is expected to throw his first bullpen session since elbow reconstruction surgery on Tuesday, Aaron Boone said. The Yankees manager said he absolutely expects Britton to be back this season.

The lefty reliever was in the clubhouse before Thursday’s game. He has been recovering from left elbow reconstruction surgery in Tampa.

In other injury news, Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who has been rehabbing from a shoulder issue since spring training, has been facing live hitters in batting practice and is “close,” to getting a rehab assignment.

With the Yankees bullpen losing Aroldis Chapman (Achilles), Chad Green (Tommy John) and Jonathan Loaisiga (shoulder), German could possibly be a reinforcement when he is ready.

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David Banuelos’ impact with St. Paul Saints extends off the field

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David Banuelos, St. Paul Saints catcher

The backgrounds of Saints players feature a wide variety of honors and accolades from high school, college and earlier minor league stops.

Such notoriety for 25-year-old catcher David Banuelos includes being one of the three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award (given annually to the best collegiate catcher) in 2017 while playing for Cal State Long Beach. Banuelos’ recognized talents led to him being selected in the fifth round of that year’s draft by the Seattle Mariners.

Being recognized for his work off the field has proven to be equally gratifying. Banuelos was the recipient of the Twins’ annual Harmon Killebrew Award in 2018, given to players on all levels of the organization for their community work.

David Banuelos, St. Paul Saints catcher

“I love giving back to the community,” said Banuelos, who has continued his community work in the Twin Cities, prior to Thursday night’s 8-1 win over Indianapolis at CHS Field. “It’s something I was always appreciative of growing up.

“You can make a big impact in a person’s life just with the title that you have. Just taking a couple of seconds out of your day can make a little kid’s day — or year. I’m grateful for being in the position to be able to talk to kids and have a positive impact.”

The award has extra meaning to Banuelos due to the fact that one of his friends back in his native Ontario, Calif., is Killebrew’s grandson.

“It was a really cool award to win because I know the family personally,” Banuelos said. “His mom congratulated me as well for winning an award that was named after her father.”

Banuelos credits his own parents with instilling in him the willingness to give back whenever he can.

Interestingly, Banuelos’ middle name is Clemente, the surname of baseball’s greatest humanitarians, Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash on December 31, 1972, while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Following his death, Major League Baseball established the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to a player for his commitment to community service.

While Banuelos was not named after Clemente (it’s his father’s first name), the Pittsburgh Pirates legend has had an impact on him, especially being in a position of influence.

“People like that inspire you to do things (to help),” Banuelos said, “because there are bigger things in the world than baseball. When people like us can give back to the community they appreciate those kind of things.”

Banuelos’ community work usually involves kids, and he and his wife, Jessica, have a son, Ezekiel, who just turned 1. Being a father also has impacted Banuelos’ life, including on the field.

“The way I think has completely changed,” he said. “I control my temper a little more now on the field. It’s made me think twice before I do things — maybe three times. Because there are consequences to everything.”

BRIEFLY

Royce Lewis moved over from his customary shortstop to play third base on Friday. He made a diving stop behind the bag and threw out the hitter in the fifth. He also had two hits, drove in a run and stole a base.

Alex Kirilloff had a two-run home run, a double and an RBI single. Spencer Steer also homered.

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Grieving husband dies after wife is slain in Texas rampage

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Grieving husband dies after wife is slain in Texas rampage

By STEFANIE DAZIO

Irma Garcia’s family was already reeling from her death in the Texas school shooting that targeted her fourth grade classroom and killed her co-teacher and 19 students.

Then, a mere two days after the attack, her grieving husband collapsed and died at home from a heart attack, a family member said.

Joe Garcia, 50, dropped off flowers at his wife’s memorial Thursday morning in Uvalde, Texas, and returned home, where he “pretty much just fell over” and died, his nephew John Martinez told The New York Times.

Married for 24 years, the couple had four children.

Martinez told The Detroit Free Press that the family was struggling to grasp that while the couple’s oldest son trained for combat in the Marine Corps, it was his mother who was shot to death.

“Stuff like this should not be happening in schools,” he told the newspaper.

The Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary confirmed Joe Garcia’s death to The Associated Press. AP was unable to independently reach members of the Garcia family on Thursday.

The motive for the massacre — the nation’s deadliest school shooting since the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut — remained under investigation, with authorities saying the 18-year-old gunman had no known criminal or mental health history.

The rampage rocked a country already weary from gun violence and shattered the community of Uvalde, a largely Latino town of some 16,000 people about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the Mexican border.

The Garcias loved to barbecue, 48-year-old Irma wrote in an online letter to her students at Robb Elementary School. Irma enjoyed listening to music and traveling to Concan, a community along the Frio River about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Uvalde.

The couple’s oldest child, Cristian, is a Marine. The couple’s other son, Jose, attends Texas State University. Their eldest daughter, Lyliana, is a high school sophomore, while her younger sister is in the seventh grade.

The school year, scheduled to end Thursday, was Irma’s 23rd year of teaching — all of it at Robb. She was previously named the school’s teacher of the year and was a 2019 recipient of the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Education from Trinity University.

“Mrs. Irma Garcia was my mentor when I began teaching,” her colleague Allison McCullough wrote when Irma was named teacher of the year. “The wealth of knowledge and patience that she showed me was life changing.”

For five years, Irma co-taught with Eva Mireles, who also was killed.

The suspect, Salvador Ramos, was inside the classroom for more than an hour before he was killed in a shootout with law enforcement, authorities said.

“Welcome to the 4th grade! We have a wonderful year ahead of us!” Mireles wrote last year in an online letter to incoming students.

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Associated Press journalist Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report.

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More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas:

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