When Cafe Racer opened its doors yesterday morning, it was just another laid-back coffee shop/music venue/artspace in a hip Seattle neighborhood. When the first gunshots rang out around 11:10 am, it became a murder scene.
A cafe surveillance camera showed a white male with a beard walk into the espresso shop and begin shooting with no warning. Five people were shot at the cafe. Two men were killed at the scene; another man and woman died at a local hospital; the fifth victim, a man, is listed in critical condition and some reports say he is not expected to survive. Not all of the victims’ names have been released at this time, but two of the deceased men from Cafe Racer — Drew Keriakedes and Joe Albranese — were members of the band God’s Favorite Beefcake. The LA Times reported that one of the victims was also a fire-breather and sword swallower.
Police disseminated a photo of the shooter and began a city-wide manhunt, but by then another victim had been gunned down. At about 11:50 am, mother of two Gloria Leonidas was shot dead and her black Mercedes SUV was carjacked. Eyewitness accounts said the crime was committed by a lone man.
The assailant would soon be identified as Ian Lee Stawicki, 40. Police surrounded his last known address but quickly figured out the suspect no longer lived there. The Seattle Post Intelligencer reported that Stawicki had not been convicted of any crimes, but had previously been suspected of assault, malicious mischief and domestic violence.
The big break in the case came when the abandoned SUV was found in the afternoon. The search intensified in the West Seattle area, and at roughly 4 pm an officer spotted the suspect. As the back-up police cars approached, Stawicki knelt down, pulled out a gun and fired a round into his head. He was quickly transported to Harborview Medical Center, but did not survive his self-inflicted wound.
Stawicki’s brother Andrew spoke openly to the Seattle Times, telling a reporter that
his brother, Ian, suffered from mental illness: “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.”
A police spokesman said the shootings at the cafe and carjacking were linked together by witnesses who described the shooter as carrying a distinctive item. “We now feel confident in connecting the two [murder scenes]“, said Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel. That comes as small consolation for a city that has seen a rash of homicides this year already — Wednesday’s incident brought the 2012 total to 21, the same amount Seattle suffered in all of 2011.
Seattle experienced another shooting incident in 2006, when Kyle Huff, 28, opened fire on a rave afterparty at a house in the Capitol Hill area. Huff had arrived at the party with a truck full of weapons, and, after spraypainting the word “NOW” on the sidewalk, began shooting people both outside and inside the home. When police arrived five mintues into the shooting, Huff shot and killed himself. Prior to the killings, Huff, who was by no means a raver, had written a letter which police later found in his garbage, expressing his disdain for the rave lifestyle.