Walmart shooting hits home on Auraria Campus

AHEC workers remember colleague and friend, Carlos Moreno

In life, Carlos Moreno lit a flame that refuses to fade past his death. A man whose impact was felt, be it at work or at home with his family, no longer walks the halls and fields of Auraria. He is sorely missed by all who knew him.

Friends and Family gather at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church for the Recitation of the Rosary on Nov. 7 in honor of Carlos Moreno. Moreno was a valued employee of AHEC and member of the Auraria campus community. Photos by Ali Watkins | awatkin9@gmail.com

“Carlos stretched far beyond just the Auraria staff. It was really out to MSU Denver, Community College of Denver and University of Colorado,” said Tara Weachter, Director of Facilities for Auraria. “It was largely known that we would call Carlos, the ‘Mayor of Auraria.’ He was one of those folks that really took the time and effort to visit with people.”

Moreno died Nov. 1 in a gun attack that left two other people dead at a Thornton Walmart. Weachter said many still struggle with the loss.

Those who worked with Moreno remember an outgoing, happy man. Moreno worked as a structural trade technician at Auraria for 18 years and nine months, according to Weachter. He was close with his coworkers, even befriending Weachter’s daughter, Olivia Nohrenhold, who is a student at CU Denver. The two would banter whenever they saw each other, and he always took the opportunity to ask her how her classes were going.

“He was always dependable and reliable. He always was uplifting with people that were struggling through hard times, considered himself a brother to many here,” Weachter said.

Tina Higgitt, Moreno’s daughter, said her father was an avid outdoorsman. He often went hunting and fishing, sometimes sharing in those activities with his coworkers. Higgitt said that Moreno loved his coworkers. He also took time to make himself a part of campus life.

“He loved the events,” Higgitt said. “He would always come home with stories and pictures from the different events that the campus had. He was a hard worker. He was always there.”

Moreno spent his time on campus helping with maintenance, painting and anything else that was needed. He spent time in gyms setting up bleachers. He made it early to campus on snow days to plow and shovel. Everything he did was for the well-being of students. It was important to him.

Mourners pray the Rosary for Carlos Moreno at the memorial service held in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Thornton on Nov. 7.

“He was such a bright and loving, force that only comes around once in a lifetime,” said Carey Hogan, Moreno’s niece. “I knew it as a child into adulthood, but never ever could have realized that everyone that encountered him felt the same exact way.”

It was true. Sherry Sauer and Mike Sanchez, both Auraria Higher Education Center employees who work in the custodial department, did not work in trades with Moreno. They knew him only in passing. However, Moreno’s presence was such that his warmth extended beyond trades into other departments, such as the one that Sauer and Sanchez worked in. Moreno’s absence leaves a hole in the heart of AHEC employees.

Funeral mass for Moreno was held at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Thornton on Nov. 8, where he was a member. Moreno’s burial will be a private ceremony for the family. AHEC will make accommodations for staff to attend. A potluck will be held Nov. 10 for Moreno on campus, with a second one held two weeks later. Weachter said that AHEC will continue to support the family however they can.

Husband, father, uncle, technician. Moreno’s loss reaches further than the boundaries of the campus, Weachter said. Although his footsteps are gone from Auraria’s grounds, Moreno’s contributions to the campus live on in the hard work he put in to make this a place that almost 50,000 students, teachers and faculty call home. He will not be forgotten.

To donate for the funeral costs and help Moreno’s family click here

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