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Originally published May 30, 2012 at 9:56 PM | Page modified May 31, 2012 at 2:01 PM

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2 best friends, a Bellevue mom, 2 others die in Seattle shootings

Two local alternative musicians, a Bellevue mother of two, and two as-yet-unidentified victims were slain Wednesday in the shooting rampage...

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Two local alternative musicians, a Bellevue mother of two, and two as-yet-unidentified victims were slain Wednesday in the shooting rampage by a mentally ill Seattle man.

One shooting victim, a cook at Cafe Racer, survived.

DREW KERIAKEDES

On stage, Drew Keriakedes often played a foul-mouthed, singing clown. Underneath the facade, he was a bighearted, romantic songwriter, according to friends and band mates.

"Drew could be crass. He liked telling terrible, sometimes dirty jokes, then singing a really gorgeous song. He always gave the persona of clown or oaf, then took his songwriting seriously," said Terry Podgorski, who was production and stage manager of Circus Contraption, a vaudeville-burlesque group that Keriakedes performed with for years.

The group called itself a nonprofit collective and was made up of more than a dozen performers rooted in circus arts. It played in New York, San Francisco, even Portugal. In performances, Keriakedes was front and center, singing as Shmootzi the Clod.

Sari Breznau, a singer with the group, played at the wedding of Keriakedes and his wife, Zoe, in New York City several years ago. "I never met anyone with as much talent as Drew," Breznau said. "He was the one of the most profound, simple and loving songwriters you ever heard."

Keriakedes, 45, grew up in Florida, Breznau said, and joked that he was from the "sticks."

Gus Clark, who played with Keriakedes' last band, God's Favorite Beefcake, said he met Keriakedes busking at Pike Place Market about eight years ago with bass player Joe Albanese, his best friend.

The two were almost inseparable, according to friends. Albanese lived with Keriakedes and his wife. "I didn't see them apart in the last seven years," said Breznau.

Friends were stunned to hear Keriakedes and Albanese were killed at Cafe Racer, a favorite hangout where they helped foster a creative community.

Cafe Racer was a "home to us, almost a haven for all different types, young and old, strait-laced and weirdos, and we're all full of shock," Clark said.

He said Keriakedes and Albanese were like older brothers to him. "We're all just crying and drinking," he said Wednesday night.

Chris Assaf, who lived near the cafe, knew Keriakedes. "He took a liking to my kids and would read them books when he came by to visit," Assaf said, tearing up outside the police lines Wednesday. "He would sing a song and you wouldn't know what it was, but by the end of the song you would end up singing with him. You would know all the words."

— By Bob Young with Javier Panzar

JOE ALBANESE

Joe "Vito" Albanese played the bass by ear — taking an unconventional approach to music as he did to life.

His band mates in punk bands and vaudeville acts over the years became accustomed to playing new songs a few times for him until he picked it up.

Albanese, 52, did not live to impress anyone, say those who knew him. He loved to play music and be with his friends, especially his band mate, roommate and best friend, Drew Keriakedes, who was with him at Cafe Racer Espresso when he died.

"He was just your old typical musician," said Tony Cunningham, Albanese's boss at Johnny's Ballard Shoe Services. "He'd rather play a gig and drink and have some food and call it a good night. And if he made money, that's good. And if he didn't, that's fine, too."

Albanese was a bassist for God's Favorite Beefcake, which played most recently at Seattle's Folklife Festival on Saturday morning. Before that, he played for more than a decade with Circus Contraption, a vaudeville-burlesque act for which Keriakedes was the frontman and songwriter.

He grew up in Hillsdale, N.J., the youngest of five children in a Catholic Italian family. They moved to Arizona when Albanese was 10 or 11.

His sister, Vaune Albanese, said her brother was a rebel even as a child, refusing to wear new clothes. As a teenager, he joined two punk-rock bands, the God Wads and the Mighty Sphincter.

"He loved his music and he made himself a life that worked for him, and he brought music and entertainment to thousands and thousands of people who went crazy for their music," Vaune Albanese said.

God's Favorite Beefcake had plans to play the 85th birthday party of Albanese's mom next month.

Albanese was a meticulous leather-worker and "a jokester," his sister said. He especially loved the Marx Brothers and could quote lines at length from old comic films.

Albanese is survived by his mother, Rosalee Jones, of Sun City West, Ariz.; sisters Vaune Albanese, of Portland, Corinne DeLange, of Issaquah, and Linda Paterik, of Buckley, Pierce County; and brother, Thomas Albanese, of Downers Grove, Ill.

He struggled, at times, with drug addiction, his sisters and friends said. He lived in the rented basement of a Ravenna-area home with Drew and Zoe Keriakedes, frequently taking in other musicians who needed a place to stay. "They were very caring, giving people, who wanted to share their gift of music," said Mylinda Sneed, a friend and neighbor. "They were amazing people and are going to be dearly, dearly missed."

— Emily Heffter

GLORIA KOCH LEONIDAS

Gloria Koch Leonidas, 52, of Bellevue, was a married mother of two girls who was active in the lighting industry. She was shot and killed in a parking lot adjacent to Town Hall on Wednesday.

Her husband, Tom Leonidas, said he could not speak about his wife's life yet because the family needed "time to process this."

Leonidas' two children attend the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences (SAAS), a private school located a short distance from where the shooting took place. The school sent a message out to parents late Wednesday afternoon letting them know of Leonidas' death.

"Right now the best (way) we can support the family is to honor their request that no one call" family members, the message to parents said. "There will be a time for these calls later, but that time is not now."

Neighbors in the family's central Bellevue neighborhood also said they had been asked not speak about Leonidas' life out of respect for the family.

According to a profile on LinkedIn, Leonidas — who went by her maiden name of Koch — worked in specification sales at Electrical Reps West, a lighting company.

She also was active in the Puget Sound chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society, a forum for the exchange of ideas and information about lighting. She is listed on the group's website as a member of its board of managers and the awards and nominations committee chair.

SAAS administrators said they planned to have in-house counselors and mental-health professionals available at the school on Thursday to help any students who might need it.

— Katherine Long and Nicole Brodeur

LEONARD MEUSE, survivor

Leonard Meuse told his family that he loved working as a chef at Cafe Racer.

The 46-year-old had given up a prestigious position as a research scientist at the University of Washington to go to pastry school. He told his family that once the economy turned around, he hoped to get a full-time job baking bread, said his father, Raymond Meuse.

On Wednesday, the younger Meuse was at work when police say a man entered the cafe around 11 a.m. and opened fire. Meuse was shot once in the jaw and once in the armpit.

"It's amazing he's alive," his father said. The bullet "went through his lung, grazed his liver, missed his heart. It went between (his) aorta and his spinal column. He should be able to walk."

Raymond Meuse said that Leonard, the second oldest of his three sons, went to pastry school at Seattle Central Community College. At Cafe Racer, he was doing "some cooking ... and some baking."

"The clientele is up his alley," the elder Meuse said. "There were a fair number of students and a number of motorcycle riders. It was an eclectic group."

Raymond Meuse said another of his sons called to tell him there had been a shooting at the cafe. The elder Meuse turned on the television news and soon got a call from one of Leonard's friends, who had gone to Harborview Medical Center and identified Leonard for police and doctors.

Raymond Meuse said he talked to a hospital social worker and doctors, who said his son's condition was "sounding pretty good."

The elder Meuse described Leonard, who lives alone in Seattle's Central Area, as "extremely intelligent." He majored in Japanese and zoology at the University of Washington, although he regularly criticized what he was taught.

"He's so intelligent he can't stay in college," Meuse said. "He criticizes college for not teaching people what they need to know."

— Jennifer Sullivan

Also contributing were news assistant Jeff Albertson, staff eporter Misha Berson, and news researchers Gene Balk and Miyoko Wolf.

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