Cheyenne Shop Owners Fed Up With 6-Foot-4 Shaman’s Death Threats And Harassment

Downtown Cheyenne business owners say they’re fed up with an aggressive 6-foot-4-inch man who calls himself “Wisdom," brandishes a staff like a shaman, claims he practices Voodoo, and then threatens to kill them or burn their shops down.

Clair McFarland

May 31, 20245 min read

Joshua Hayden-Ali has harassed buiness owners in downtown Cheyenne for quite some time, and it's become more aggressive. He's often armed and makes death threats, they report.
Joshua Hayden-Ali has harassed buiness owners in downtown Cheyenne for quite some time, and it's become more aggressive. He's often armed and makes death threats, they report. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Some Downtown Cheyenne business owners say they are worried about and fed up with a towering man who strides from store to store while brandishing a staff like a shaman and threatening to kill people. 

Joshua Hayden-Ali, who turns 43 this year, stands 6-foot-4 and has a smattering of past Wyoming convictions for disturbing the peace and one for marijuana possession, according to his court file.

But most notably, he goes by the nickname “Wisdom,” marches into businesses and threatens to kill people or burn their shops down, a handful of Cheyenne store owners told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

“He’ll stand out in the middle of the street and do stuff with that staff,” said Brian Snyder, owner of Bohemian Metals. “He also likes to stand on the corner and pretend his staff is a rifle and he’s shooting everybody.”

This week, Hayden-Ali darted into Snyder’s store with his staff while wearing earbuds, scowling and moving his staff around, Snyder said.

Snyder kept telling Hayden-Ali, “You’re not welcome here.”

But the man tapped his staff to the floor and left, Snyder recounted. 

Often the interaction with the shaman is not that benign, Eloi Martinez, who owns the Cheyenne Cup coffee house with his wife, told Cowboy State Daily.

“He’s walked in to tell me he’s going to burn down my building, and the land belongs to the ancients — whatever that is — and the ancients are coming back,” Martinez said. “He said I’m dead and my whole family is dead. He’s threatening to kill us all.”

Martinez said Hayden-Ali often walks by and kicks the Cheyenne Cup’s sidewalk sandwich board so that now it’s hanging by a thread.

While Snyder carries a firearm in part because of incidents like these, Martinez said he carries “my set of skills that I will whoop his ass.”

“I’m a nonviolent person, but he will really make threats,” Martinez said, adding that he’ll do what he must to defend his family and his customers.

Watch on YouTube

Waiting To Go Off

Both Martinez and Snyder said they’re concerned that Hayden-Ali is escalating, and he could get himself or others into actual danger.

“He’s a bomb waiting to go off,” said Snyder. He said it’s evident the man has some mental challenges, but that when a man that large also gets aggressive, carries weapons and makes “terroristic threats,” the overall safety of the community has to come first.

Martinez said he’s concerned that someone driving down the streets of Cheyenne will take Hayden-Ali’s gun-like gesturing as a real threat and react violently.


Carmen Hess, who owns Wyoming Home, saw “Wisdom” raging at other shopkeepers for years and thought how fortunate she was that he didn’t come into her store and harass her.

Until he did, starting this year. 

“He told me I needed to write my obituary and my store would be out of business by the end of the year and I’d be dead,” she said. “This was all in front of a bunch of customers.

Hess said the man warned her that he knows his voodoo, and she countered, saying his magic doesn’t work on her.

She told Cowboy State Daily she’s concerned for Hayden-Ali’s mental health and hopes he can get the help he needs.

She also wishes Cheyenne Police could do more about these encounters, but they’ve told her they’re somewhat limited in what they can do.

Shopkeepers can get trespass orders. In some cases they can obtain protection orders, as at least one business owner has.

“Why do we have to suffer with this person who’s essentially a menace to society?” she asked. “We’re all sick and tired of it.”

Upcoming Trial

Hayden-Ali is scheduled for a July 16 trial for a misdemeanor charge alleging he violated a protection order in January.

The evidentiary affidavit in that case, filed in Cheyenne Circuit Court, recounts the interview of a Sonic employee, who said Hayden-Ali walked into the Sonic the evening of Jan. 24 and brandished a pistol.

Court documents say Laramie County Sheriff’s Office deputies saw Hayden-Ali in front of that store at that time, since they were attending a nearby traffic incident.

"Joshua appeared to be waving his left hand into the store,” Deputy George Martinez wrote in the affidavit. “At the time I thought he was cursing the store with his chicken foot in hand, which I have seen from previous interactions with Joshua."

The affidavit says that as part of a protection order that doesn’t expire until December of 2026, Hayden-Ali has been banned from having firearms.

Bohemian Metals owner Brian Snyder.
Bohemian Metals owner Brian Snyder. (Greg Johnson, Cowboy State Daily)

Not Alone In This

Snyder said Hayden-Ali appears to target women in particular. 

Hess agreed. She said the majority of Cheyenne downtown businesses are female-owned, and a lot of the men working downtown will check on the women’s safety while Hayden-Ali is on the move. 

“We have (Martinez), we have the really nice guys who are at the barber shop, the records store, the tattoo shop — we don’t feel like we’re all alone in this,” she said.

Reaching Out

In response to an inquiry about Hayden-Ali, the Cheyenne Police Department’s spokeswoman said the department takes all calls seriously, and any officer enforcement action is governed by state statute and city ordinances.

She declined to give Cowboy State Daily contact information for Hayden-Ali.

Cowboy State Daily has been unable to reach Hayden-Ali by phone. A woman who said she is his mother did not share his contact information.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

Share this article



Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter