Businesses on Broadway, a ‘tight-knit’ community, mourn the loss of ‘block mom’ Alicia Cardenas, Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado

“We are one tribe.”
4 min. read
Mourners pay their respects outside Denver’s Sol Tribe Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing, on Broadway at 1st, on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

In the past two days, hundreds of people carrying candles and flowers have walked past The Hornet restaurant on 1st and Broadway, according to owner Sean Workman. The procession of patrons was heading to Sol Tribe Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing, a staple on Broadway and in the tattoo and arts community.

The cortege came to Sol to pay tribute to owner Alicia Cardenas and Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado, who were both fatally shot Monday night during a mass shooting across Denver and Lakewood. Gunn-Maldonado's husband, Jimmy Maldonado, was wounded in the shooting and Denver Police have said he is expected to survive. Other victims include Michael Swinyard, who was shot in his condo in Cheesman Park, tattooist Danny Scofield, who worked at Lucky 13 in Lakewood, and Sarah Steck, a hotel clerk at the Hyatt House hotel in Belmar.

Workman said the community of businesses near Sol, on Broadway and 1st, is especially hurting.

Denver tattoo artist and muralist Alicia Cardenas died after someone opened fire at the tattoo shop she owned, Sol Tribe Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing, on 1st and Broadway, on Monday evening, Dec. 27, 2021. On Tuesday morning Dec. 28, a sidewalk memorial began to grow outside the business. Her father, Alfredo Cardenas, placed a votive candle of the Virgen de Guadalupe there, and spoke about his daughter’s life and work.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

"We're a tight-knit community here on Broadway and it's a tough one to take in," Workman said. "Yesterday morning was pretty devastating when we found out who the victims were and how well we knew them... It's hard and we've all got stories and memories but there's an overall hurt for their specific business, their families and their employees."

Angel Macauley, the owner of Femme Fatale Intimates, at 26 Broadway, said that portion of the street has an "energy" about it, and Sol Tribe was a strong part of that energy.

Cardenas brought Sol Tribe to Broadway in 2009 and became the block's matriarch, Macauley said.

"Alicia was kind of the block mom," Macauley said. "She's been here for fourteen years, so she knows everybody and everybody knows her... She definitely made me feel really welcomed when I moved here. I've been here for about two years and she was one of the best people. She supported my business, honored my business and I did the same for her. We're all pretty tight here and we're pretty devastated."

Other businesses along the strip have taken to social media to express their grief and condolences.

Alicia Cardenas speaks to a reporter inside Sol Tribe Tattoo and Piercing on Broadway. April 1, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"Our hearts have broken for our neighbors down at Sol Tribe tattoo, and for all the victims of last night's senseless tragedy," the rock club hi-dive said. "We love you and we support you. If anyone needs to talk about it we are here for you."

Hope Tank said, "Our community has suffered a staggering loss. We are heartbroken."

Although Broadway is grieving, Macauley said the block will bounce back through that collective energy.

Workman said all of Broadway has become a gathering place for those wanting to share stories, happy memories or express their pain. He said many of the faces walking past Hornets to Sol Tribe were familiar. He recalled seeing Cardenas and Gunn-Maldonado walk around the area after work.

"I think that's the hard part, just knowing that some of those faces aren't going to be around anymore," Workman said.

On Thursday, The Hornet will host a fundraiser all day for the families and employees of Sol Tribe. Workman said 56% of the day's profits will go towards the donations, because 56 represents Sol Tribe's address.

"One of our employees had a great idea to put 'We are one tribe' on our marquee and some of the other venues on Broadway asked if they could do the same, and I think that's a fantastic idea because we are such a small, tight-knit community down here," Workman said. "As eclectic as Broadway is, I think that's what makes Broadway magical. The community just comes together. The reason for this is horrendous but it's neat to see people come together in a time of need."

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