Police laud 'hero' in Seattle shootings

The man had been banned from the artsy cafe for acting out, but that didn

Friends and neighbors stand at the scene of where a gunman killed four people and severely wounded another in a cafe a day earlier, Thursday, May 31, 2012, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) — The man had been banned from the artsy cafe for acting out, but that didn't stop him from walking in, taking a seat at the bar and trying to place an order. After the barista declined to serve him, he stood up, took out a gun and shot the man next to him.

Then he worked his way up the bar, calmly taking life after life from the people seated there or scrambling for cover. One man tried to stop him.

Grabbing the only weapons at hand — bar stools — he tossed them at the gunman, even as the man aimed at him, Seattle Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel said Thursday after reviewing harrowing surveillance video of the massacre. The tactic created enough of a delay in the shooting that two or three other customers were able to bolt out the door to safety.

"My brother died in the World Trade Center," the man later told Seattle police, who did not release his name but provided an account of the interview. After his brother's death, he said, he resolved that if something like this ever happened, "I would never hide under a table."

The Seattle Times late Thursday identified the man as Lawrence Adams, 56.

Adams told the newspaper that his brother, Stephen Adams, an employee at the Windows on the World restaurant, had been killed in the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He declined to give a detailed account of the shootings.

By the time Ian Lee Stawicki's rampage was over, five people had been shot in Cafe Racer — four fatally, including two musicians who frequently played there.

The gunman put his two .45-caliber handguns in his pocket, then bent down, picked a bowler-style hat off the head of one of his dead victims, placed it on his own head and walked out.

He fled first to downtown Seattle, where he shot a woman to death while stealing her black Mercedes sports-utility vehicle, then drove it to West Seattle, where he met up with an old friend who had no idea what he'd done, police said.

The friend eventually ditched Stawicki because he wasn't making any sense, and called police after learning about the shootings. Stawicki killed himself on a West Seattle street as officers moved in to arrest him.

"In my almost 30 years in this department, I've never seen anything more callous, horrific and cold," Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz said Thursday after reviewing video footage of the cafe killings.

Police late Thursday released 911 tapes from the shooting spree, including one from a man who phoned authorities from inside a bathroom at the cafe.

"Somebody came in and shot a bunch of people. I'm hiding in the bathroom. We need help right away," the man says, adding he didn't see the gunman. "I can see people laying on the floor.

"People are bleeding all over the place."

Wednesday's slayings further frayed nerves in an already jittery city that has seen 21 homicides so far this year — as many as Seattle had in all of 2011.

The gunman's father struggled Thursday to understand how his son could have gone on a shooting rampage and apologized to the victims' families.

"The first thing I can say, and it doesn't go very far at this point, is I'm so sorry," Walter Stawicki told The Associated Press, his voice quivering. "It sounds so trite, that I feel their grief. ... I just hope they understand he wasn't a monster out to kill people."

The 21 homicides this year have the city's leaders wondering what if anything can be done.

"The city is stunned and seeking to make sense of it," Mayor Mike McGinn said. "I think we have to start by acknowledging the tremendous amount of grief that's out there from the families and friends of the victims."

In just over a month, a young woman was killed in a seemingly random drive-by shooting in a popular nightlife district, and a father who was driving with his family was killed by a stray bullet fired during a fight involving people on the street.

While the city still has a low murder rate, pressure is growing on the police to curtail the violence at a time when the department is facing accusations of excessive force. Police have told residents to expect more officers on patrol in high-crime areas.

McGinn said the highest priority would be addressing the "epidemic of gun violence that's plaguing the city." He said he'll look at redeploying officers, as well as legislation.

Ian Stawicki, 40, had suffered from mental illness for years and gotten "exponentially" more erratic, his father said, but family members had been unable to get him to seek help.

"He wouldn't hear it," he said. "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."

Walter Stawicki recalled a son who liked dogs, kids and plants. He joined the U.S. Army after graduating high school, but the Army honorably discharged him after about a year, he said.

Since then, Ian Stawicki had bounced around serving as a roadie for bands and helping his mother with gardening.

According to the Seattle city attorney's office, police cited Stawicki in 1989 for carrying a concealed knife and, in 2008, a girlfriend who lived with him claimed he had assaulted her and had destroyed her property. She later recanted, and charges were dismissed because she would not cooperate with prosecutors.

Stawicki obtained a concealed weapons permit in 2010 from the Kittitas County sheriff's office. The permit shows he owned six firearms.

Other than a couple of traffic tickets and a fistfight with his brother several years ago — charges were dropped — Stawicki had no criminal record, his father said.

"When you knew him and he liked you, he was the best friend you could have. He was an old-fashioned gentleman," he said. "But when he was having bad days, he scared people."

Walter Stawicki also said he knew his son had guns, but he was more concerned that Ian — a "beanpole" at 6-foot, 150 pounds — would get beat up while confronting someone.

Stawicki last spoke to his son the morning of the shooting. He recalled a cheerful conversation. "He handed the phone to his mother and I said, 'Gee, he sounds in a good mood.'"

The only survivor of the cafe shooting, Leonard Meuse, was upgraded from critical to serious condition at Harborview Medical Center.

Lawrence Adams told The Times that cafe employee Meuse was the real hero, phoning for help despite his gunshot wounds.

"The hero is Leonard," Adams said. "He had the presence of mind as the captain of the ship to do his job. He just kept doing his job."

A memorial in front of the cafe grew Thursday as people stopped by to drop off flowers, cans of beer and toy instruments. Two of the victims, identified by friends as Drew Keriakedes, 49, and Joe Albanese, 52, were old-time musicians and regulars at the cafe, where they often played or simply held court.

"They were the life of this place," said Janna Silver, who had known them for a few years. "They were very welcoming, and they'd talk to anyone."

Silver said Keriakedes officiated at her wedding at the cafe. He wore leather pants, a priest's collar and a sparkly red vest with nothing underneath. "He's one of the most irreverent people I've ever met," she said.

The King County medical examiner also identified another cafe victim, Kimberly Layfield, 36. The Albany Herald in Georgia reported that Layfield was a former resident of Albany. Layfield had lived in Seattle for 10 years, according to her aunt Sheilah Holland. Holland said Layfield returned to Seattle on Monday after spending three weeks at home with family and friends to celebrate her grandmother Freda Cochran's 103rd birthday.

The carjacked woman was identified as Gloria Leonidas, 52. The Seattle Times said she was a married mother of two from suburban Bellevue. The medical examiner's office does not release hometowns.

Formal identification of the other victims, as well as the victims' cause and manner of death, will be released Friday, the medical examiner's office said.

___

Associated Press writer Chris Grygiel contributed to this report. Dininny reported from Yakima, Wash.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed


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