Seattle shootings: day of horror, grief in a shaken city
A man suspected of shooting five people at a University District cafe — and a woman later on First Hill — shot himself as police closed in.
A man described by his family as "angry toward everything" went on a deadly shooting rampage in Seattle on Wednesday, killing five people and critically wounding another before turning a gun on himself hours later as police closed in.
Ian L. Stawicki, 40, was identified by family and law-enforcement officials as the man who shot five people just before 11 a.m. at Cafe Racer Espresso in the University District — a hangout for a tight community of artists and musicians.
Four of the cafe shooting victims died. A fifth victim was fatally shot near Town Hall in downtown Seattle.
At the cafe, Joe "Vito" Albanese, 52, was killed along with best friend and bandmate, Drew Keriakedes, 45. Both men performed with the band God's Favorite Beefcake.
Another man and woman shot at the cafe were taken to Harborview Medical Center, but died later Wednesday. They were identified Thursday as Donald Largen, a 57-year-old urban planner who played the saxophone; and Kimberly Layfield, 38, originally from Albany, Ga., an aspiring actress who had recently left her job as a dental assistant in Seattle.
Leonard Meuse, the chef at the cafe, was also wounded. His father, Raymond Meuse, said Wednesday afternoon his son had been shot in the jaw and armpit, but that he was out of surgery and expected to survive.
About a half-hour after the cafe shootings, Stawicki fatally shot Gloria Leonidas, a married mother of two, in a parking lot near Town Hall in the First Hill neighborhood. He then fled in her black SUV.
Abandoning the SUV in West Seattle, Stawicki was seen on foot about 4 p.m. by a plainclothed police officer.
As police cruisers closed in, Stawicki knelt and shot himself in the head. He was taken by ambulance to Harborview, where he died Wednesday evening.
Wednesday's shootings bring the number of homicides in Seattle this year to 21, the same number as in all of 2011.
Stawicki was described as a sometimes-troubled regular at Cafe Racer, on Roosevelt Way Northeast near the corner of Northeast Ravenna Boulevard.
Stawicki liked to hang out at the cafe, but was kicked out sometimes for being belligerent or too intoxicated, according to cafe employees and acquaintances.
Christopher Assaf, who lives in the neighborhood and frequented the cafe, said Stawicki had been kicked out two or three times in recent weeks for "snapping" at people.
On Wednesday, according to police, he returned and shot all five people in barely a minute.
"It was a grisly, grisly scene," said Assistant Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel.
Pugel compared it to the Wah Mee massacre in 1983 in which 14 people were shot during a robbery in a Chinatown gambling room. Thirteen people died in what was the worst mass killing in Seattle history.
After the shooting at the cafe, Stawicki left on foot. Doors at nearby schools were locked as police fanned out across the area searching for Stawicki, who was considered armed and dangerous. The manhunt stretched from North Seattle to West Seattle as police went door-to-door.
About 30 minutes later, a shooting was reported in a parking lot adjacent to Town Hall at Eighth Avenue and Seneca Street. It wasn't immediately clear whether the downtown shooting was connected to the University District shooting.
According to police, witnesses saw the gunman and a woman arguing. Ibrahim Frishak, a maintenance worker at an apartment building across the street, said he heard a loud pop.
A couple rushed across the street and began administering CPR to the woman, even as the gunman was still in the parking lot.
"They are brave, I tell you," Frishak said of the good Samaritans.
While police said they did not know the motive for the shooting, Stawicki's family said he had a history of anger and mental-health problems that he refused to deal with.
His brother Andrew Stawicki, 29, of Ellensburg, said that when he saw a photo on the news of the alleged gunman inside Cafe Racer, he recognized it as his big brother.
Andrew Stawicki has many memories growing up around him.
Ian Stawicki was the eldest of Carol and Walter Stawicki's three children, two boys and a girl, said his brother. They grew up in Beacon Hill and other South Seattle neighborhoods.
"When I was little, he would take me to punk rock concerts and big brother things," said Andrew Stawicki said, as he drove to Seattle from his home in Ellensburg on Wednesday. "He was great."
But over the past five or so years, Ian Stawicki severely changed.
"Angry. He was really angry toward everything," Andrew Stawicki said.
Despite his problems, Ian Stawicki would not talk about his mental illnesses, his anger or other troubles, his brother said.
"Someone like that is so stubborn you can't talk to him," he said. "It's no surprise to me this happened. We could see this coming. Nothing good is going to come with that much anger inside of you."
Andrew Stawicki said his brother stayed in close contact with his parents. He said his brother cared for their mother, who lives in Seattle, when she needed help, and she cared for him.
Andrew Stawicki said their family long hoped Ian would go to mental-health treatment or take medications to keep his moods in balance.
Stawicki was arrested in February 2008 on a misdemeanor domestic-violence charge in Seattle, and soon posted $10,000 bail. He pledged to stay 500 feet away from a 37-year-old woman, and listed his home address in Magnolia. His attorney fought the charges, and they were dismissed.
He was also charged with fourth-degree assault in Kittitas County in 2010, but that case was dismissed as well; court records did not indicate why.
Court records indicate he has lived in Portland and in Ellensburg, with his brother.
At a City Hall news conference, a somber Mayor Mike McGinn said the city must bring an end to the wave of gun violence. He said political leaders will work with the police to ensure they have the tools they need to focus on violent offenders with access to guns.
"We also need to focus on laws that make it too easy for people to acquire guns and also undertake a full partnership with the community to end the culture where young men believe it's OK to resolve disputes with violence, including guns," he said.
On Wednesday night, friends of the victims converged on the lawn of a house less than block from the cafe to remember those who died. By early evening the gathering had grown to dozens of people who spilled onto the sidewalk and street.
There were lots of embraces, tears and stories of friends now lost. There was also lots of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, which several people said was an affordable standby that was one of Drew's favorite brews.
Seattle Times staff reporters Jennifer Sullivan, Jim Brunner, Maureen O'Hagan, Alexa Vaughn, Hal Bernton, Steve Miletich, Mary Jean Spadafora, Sara Jean Green, Mike Carter, Katherine Long, Jayme Fraser, and Brian M. Rosenthal and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report