Aftermath of an unexpected Arvada shooting

Family and friends tell the stories of those affected in July 11 incident

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/29/20

As police investigate a shooting that occurred July 11, in which one Arvadan was killed and three others were injured, the nearby community is grappling not only with loss, but also with surprise. …

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Aftermath of an unexpected Arvada shooting

Family and friends tell the stories of those affected in July 11 incident

Posted

As police investigate a shooting that occurred July 11, in which one Arvadan was killed and three others were injured, the nearby community is grappling not only with loss, but also with surprise.

Several community members view the incident — which police say is being investigated as a conflict between two motorcycle clubs — as unexpected and out of the ordinary. Detective Dave Snelling said that while the Arvada Police Department has been aware of motorcycle clubs in the city, he doesn’t recall any similar violent incidents occurring in recent years.

Doug Jacobsen, the owner of Jake’s Roadhouse — a bar that is located near the scene of the shooting — said that in his 16 years of ownership, he has never seen that kind of violence between bikers.

Likewise, for the friends and families of the victims, the shooting was the last thing they were expecting.

Arvadans Ryan McPherson was struck by someone and injured. Fellow Arvadan William Henderson, known to his friends as Kelly, died of a gunshot. Two others were injured but fled the scene before police arrived. Snelling said the department is not releasing the names of those two individuals at this time.

The incident took place on Lamar Street around 10 p.m., just as Nightwolf, a local rock band that was playing at Jake’s that night, was taking a break between sets.

Musicians McPherson and John Akal were outside when they heard the sound of motorcycles nearby, Akal said. Two customers sitting on the patio told them they had heard gunshots not long before. 

McPherson heard an injured man calling for help across the street. He rushed to assist the injured man and was hit in the back of the head by an unknown assailant, according to Akal.

McPherson was taken to a local hospital. As of July 24, he was in stable condition and was still being treated for a brain injury, said McPherson’s wife, Darcy McPherson.

“Everything looks really optimistic and hopeful,” she said. “It’s a long road ahead, but it sounds like we should get him back.”

As she thinks to the events leading to her husband’s hospitalization, Darcy said Ryan acted exactly as she would have expected him to. Wherever they’ve gone, every time he’s seen somebody struggling or in need, he’s always stepped into help, she said.

“It’s so within who he is and his character. He’s just amazing,” she said. “In our family, he’s our quiet rock.”

For years, Ryan McPherson has been a part of the Arvada music community, from regularly playing local bars or proposing to Darcy at the D Note, a restaurant and music venue on Grandview Avenue that closed several years ago.

“Music is how Ryan communicates,” Darcy said. “Even when you walk into our house, we have a painting of guitars and mics — it’s just everywhere. He is his music.”

Since the incident, the Arvada community has come together to raise money to help the McPhersons during Ryan’s hospitalization. Most recently, on July 25, multiple Olde Town businesses came together to donate some of their daily proceeds to the McPhersons.

“We are very blessed to have a community that cares for him,” Darcy said.

As of July 25, Henderson was the one victim who had passed away due to the incident. Friends say they remember Henderson as someone who was always laughing and was incredibly passionate about what mattered to him — especially his connection with his wife and the community he found in the Hells Angels, which he wanted to join since he was a teenager.

“He really liked the idea that he could be anywhere and he would be part of that community,” said Arvadan Jennifer Enochs, who first met Henderson through the Arvada Chamber, in which Henderson and his wife have been actively involved.

“The excitement when he actually became a Hells Angel was one of the biggest moments I remember about him,” Enochs said.

Arvadan Debbie Sloan said she particularly remembers Henderson for his commitment to helping others, highlighting Henderson for shaving to fundraise for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation alongside her daughter, Erin.

“He was there to support kids, to support St. Baldrick’s, to support Erin,” Sloan said. “He didn’t have to have a connection to cancer to want to help.”

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