Stawicki, earlier days
Updated Friday, 6:30 a.m. An unnamed "hero" threw two bar stools at Ian Stawicki as he began firing off his .45 caliber handgun in a murderous rampage yesterday that left five dead, allowing as many as three people to escape likely death, police officials said today. The hero, though, shied from the label, saying he was obeying a vow never to back down from violence after his brother died in the 9/11 terror bombings.
Stawicki, earlier days
The man referred to by Pugel didn't want to be identified but did allow police to issue statements by him. Using only his first name, Lawrence, he told SPD's Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, "Just before it happened, I was looking at [Stawicki] He'd just been told he was 86'd [from the café] in a very polite manner."
Lawrence says he looked down at his phone for a moment, and then, he says, "I hear the pop, pop, and people scrambling. I couldn't make sense of it. I didn't expect the gun to be that quiet. I thought 'this is really happening.'" As Stawicki opened fire in the café, Lawrence, grabbed a bar stool and used it to try to fight off Stawicki and defend his friends.
"I just threw the frigging stool at him, legs first," he says. "My brother died in the World Trade Center. I promised myself," if something like this ever happened, "I would never hide under a table."
Authorities have now released the names of the other victims killed by Stawicki. Besides musicians Drew Keriakedes, 45, and Joe "Vito" Albanese, 52, also slain at the cafe were dental assistant and aspiring actress Kimberly Layfield, 38, and Donald Largen, a 57-year-old urban planner and musician.
Gloria Koch Leonidas, 52, a Bellevue mother of two, was murdered by Stawicki after he fled and stole her car. Cafe chef Leonard Meuse, 46, shot in the jaw, is still hospitalized but is expected to recover.
Depty Chief Nick Metz said he viewed a video of the cafe shooting taken by security cameras and, in 30 years of police work, "I've never seen anything more horrific and callous and cold," he observed at an afternoon press conference at Police Headquarters.
In the video, not yet released, the bearded Stawicki, 40, a lean six-footer, sits quietly, then as a man rises to leave, Stawicki rises, pulls his weapon, and walks up behind the man, shooting him in the back of the head.
He then moves to a wider position near a wall and begins firing at others sitting close by as the hero tries to distract him, throwing one chair, then another. At one point, Stawicki trains his gun on the stool-thrower, who escaped unhurt, police said.
Stawicki, Lawrence says, "looked at me like he didn't [care] at all. He just moved towards the rear of the bar instead of dealing with me at all, and I just brushed past him. He was on a mission to kill my friends."
"I wasn't a hero," Lawrence told SPD, pointing out that a café employee, who was wounded in the shooting, was able to call 911 and "lucidly" give police information about the shooting. "He's the hero," Lawrence says.
Though police arrived within minutes, Stawicki had fled by car or bus to First Hill above downtown Seattle, where he hijacked a black Mercedes SUV that had just been parked by Leonidas. She'd just dropped off a friend at Town Hall and was returning with a parking lot ticket for her vehicle when Stawicki confronted her.
She apparently resisted his attempt to take the car, Pugel said, and Stawicki either dropped his gun or had it knocked from his hand. He then reached down, picked it up, and shot Leonidas in the head.
Police say a former acquaintance who Stawicki contacted while police were hunting for him quickly called police, helping them track him down in West Seattle. He then committed suicide when police confronted him.
Stawicki has long had a reputation for violence and weapons. In 2008, a woman who lived with Stawicki in Magnolia said he broke up their household and bloodied her nose (though she later recanted her claims so he wouldn't go to jail). "At this point I'm afraid of him. It's either nothing or really bad," she said of his moods.
Walter Stawicki, father of the gunman, told reporters he'd been seeking mental health help for his son but, because he was an adult, couldn't force him to undergo counseling. As the father told CBS, "He wouldn't hear it, We couldn't get him in, and they wouldn't hold him ... The only way to get an intervention in time is to lie and say they threatened you. Our hands were so tied."
His son wasn't a monster, Stawicki said. "When you knew him and he liked you, he was the best friend you could have. He was an old-fashioned gentleman. But when he was having bad days, he scared people....he sometimes got crazy, talking in people's faces."
Ian Stawicki carried guns for years - in part because he was a "bean pole" who needed to defend himself, his father said. A state gun registry shows he at one time owned three .45s and three 9-mm handguns. In 1989, he was cited for carrying an illegal knife when stopped and questioned about a Capitol Hill burglary, records show.
Mayor Mike McGinn, who in reaction to the shootings had announced plans to seek changes in state guns laws, today appeared to be putting that on the back burner.
"Our focus will be on what we can do with the resources we have at hand," said the mayor. "We will look to change state law," but "my charge to the police department is that we have to double our efforts to get at these individuals with guns." He wants to work more to change the "culture of violence" affecting those who believe guns are the way to settle disputes.
Both Metz and Pugel were at a loss to explain why, exactly, Stawicki resorted to mass murder after apparently being refused service at the usually friendly U-District neighborhood cafe.
"Why?" said Pugel. "This is completely senseless."