Community Mourns Peter Damian Arguello

By Kathryn White

Shock and sadness rippled across Wheat Ridge and North Denver when local news outlets began reporting that Peter Damian Arguello, a beloved father, husband, friend and businessman, was shot and killed Wed., Nov. 29, in what police said was an attempted robbery.

An outpouring of remembrances has circulated in the community ever since.

Within hours of Arguello’s death, flowers, notes and candles in his memory began appearing in front of his shop, Peter Damian Fine Jewelry and Antiques, on West 38th Avenue between Upham and Teller streets. Photo by Basha Cohen

Customers, neighboring business owners, friends and family visited a storefront memorial to remember Arguello, bringing flowers, notes and candles. A vigil on Dec. 2 in front of his shop drew hundreds.

Peter Damian Fine Jewelry and Antiques, on West 38th Avenue between Upham and Teller streets, was a hub for people on the hunt for classic and vintage treasures, or for those looking to sell theirs off. The shop carried everything from old pocket watches and jewelry to records, record players and even a pinball machine.

Arguello, known for both his expertise and warmth, was always ready for a conversation about his treasures — and yours. Conversations often lead to deeper topics about the people who’d owned specific items and the histories they carried.

“You thought you were gonna go in there for 10 minutes, 15 minutes,” Curt Hjelle, a friend of Arguello’s, said. “Two hours later, you walked out a completely changed person. He was very deep, very spiritual. But never in a defensive way somehow.”

Many North Denverites, like Hjelle, knew Arguello in other ways: through Academia Ana Marie Sandoval elementary school or through local baseball teams that Arguello’s son, now in college at CU Boulder, played on. 

And then there were the poker games.

Arguello and other Sandoval dads used to hang out and shoot the breeze in the sunshine of the school playground after dropping their kids off for the day. One thing led to another and the men, as many as 20, began getting together to play poker.

They’ve played every couple of months for years, moving around from someone’s garage, to restaurants, to various homes.

“This next one,” Hjelle said, “we were going to play in January or February was gonna be in the shop. We were all excited about that because we like to listen to records.”

Amy Marshall met Arguello through Sandoval elementary school as well. Arguello’s wife, Teresa Casillas, was a pivotal member of Amigos de la Academia Sandoval, the school’s nonprofit fundraising arm.

“I can’t think of a conversation I’ve ever had with Peter,” Marshall said, “where it didn’t somehow turn to Diego. Whether it was in the shop or out at a flea market, every conversation would somehow come back to him. He was absolutely in love with his child. His face would light up.”

Peter Arguello (center) at a ribbon-cutting celebration at his shop. Photo from Peter Damian Fine Jewelry and Antiques Facebook page

Marshall set up a GoFundMe for Arguello’s family “to assist Teresa with the funeral expenses, and more importantly to ensure that Diego can continue his education at CU Boulder, a dream Peter had worked hard to make a reality for his son.”

“He and I were always just honest with each other,” Hjelle said. “Honest about the tough parts of life, the great parts of life. He had an appreciation for how much work went into making a family or making a community. And he never judged anybody.”

Arguello was laid to rest Dec. 11 at Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery.

The GoFundMe can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/peter-arguello.

Editor’s note: CBS News Colorado reported that on Friday, Dec. 1, police located a red pickup truck sought in connection with the case. The truck was found on fire outside a tire store at Smokey Hill and Buckley in Aurora before 6 a.m.

As The Denver North Star went to press on Dec. 12, Wheat Ridge police had not apprehended a suspect.

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