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Originally published Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 9:02 PM

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Volunteers spruce up Cafe Racer, where massacre took place

A team of professional painters gave their time and talent on Tuesday to reviving the exterior of Cafe Racer Espresso, the artsy, quirky hub of the city's alt-rock community that was the scene of a bloody massacre May 30.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A team of professional painters gave their time and talent on Tuesday to reviving the exterior of Cafe Racer Espresso, the artsy, quirky hub of the city's alt-rock community that was the scene of a bloody massacre May 30.

The cafe and bar, a music mecca and community gathering place in Seattle's University District, is expected to reopen within the month, said Catherine Alexander, a sales rep for Miller Paint Co. Alexander recruited the painters, all private contractors, including her husband, Jim Alexander, and her company's Georgetown store donated the paint.

"It looks beautiful. It's been spruced up for company in a big way," Catherine Alexander said by phone Tuesday afternoon as the painters were finishing up the project they'd started at 6 a.m.

People stopped by throughout the day, and workers at a local Starbucks provided free coffee to the paint crew, she said. "There's a lot of love out here."

Alexander said her 25-year-old musician son, who lives in Los Angeles, used to play at Cafe Racer and was devastated by the shootings that killed four cafe regulars and injured an employee when a mentally ill patron, Ian Stawicki, opened fire after being asked to leave because of his previous, disruptive behavior. Killed were Joe Albanese, Drew Keriakedes, Kimberly Layfield and Donald Largen. A fifth person, Leonard Meuse, was wounded.

Stawicki also killed Gloria Leonidas near Town Hall Seattle when he carjacked her Mercedes-Benz SUV before fatally shooting himself on a West Seattle sidewalk.

Alexander, noting that "our grandmothers used to bake pies and take them to funerals," wanted to use her expertise and connections to make a tangible difference.

"It's really, really nice to help," said Alexander. "You bring what you can. Everybody's got something they can do to help a neighbor in need."

She said volunteer carpenters rebuilt the cafe's bar and another group of painters painted the interior.

Cafe Racer owner Kurt Geissel could not be reached.

The exterior of the Cafe Racer building was painted a "screaming yellow green" and the doors were painted fire-engine red, Alexander said. The painters — Jim Alexander, Christine Fouty, Scott Zellerhoff and Betty Brown — also spruced up the mural on one side of the building with black, white and gray details.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

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