A man that police are praising as a hero saved several lives yesterday morning by throwing a stool—and then another stool—to delay a gunman who was firing at people inside Cafe Racer yesterday. Carrying two .45 semi-automatic pistols, the shooter "was trying to get everyone he could, as close as possible," said Assistant Chief Jim Pugel at a press event where Seattle police provided more details on yesterday's five-person homicide. As the customer threw stools at the gunman, other customers were given a scant few moments so they could begin "running out," Pugel says.
- Assistant Chief Jim Pugel describes video of the murders at Cafe Racer.
"In that time, two or possibly three people made their escape—he saved lives," said Pugel. "If he wants to make himself available, he will." (After the press event, Pugel said that at least four people got out.)
But other details today provide an increasingly brutal picture of what cops call "completely senseless" murders. "I have had the unfortunate opportunity to see the video of what happened at Cafe Racer," Deputy Chief Metz told reporters. "In my almost three years in this department, I have never seen anything more horrific, callous, and cold."
Pugel called it "sickening."
The suspect, who is widely believed to be 40-year-old Ian Stawicki, had walked into Cafe Racer in the Roosevelt neighborhood just before 11:00 a.m. with a "calm" demeanor and seated himself at the bar across from the barista. However, witnesses said he had been kicked out once or twice before. "He knew he wasn't supposed to be there," Pugel explained. According to video footage from the scene, Pugel said, "It appears that the barista is calmly declining him service." The man stayed seated until a customer next to him stood up.
"As the first victim stood up and started going to the door, he shot him," Pugel explained. "At that point, the suspect stands up and starts shooting, and... goes down the bar. At that time he's been hit by the stool twice. He completes his shooting and puts the guns in his pockets. Actually took a hat from one of the victims and walked out." Thought it all, another customer hid in the bathroom, calling 911 for help. Officers responded within five minutes.
Here is the man's 911 call from the bathroom:
Police still don't know how the suspect got downtown to 8th Avenue and Seneca Street, where 30 minutes later he stole a woman's car and fatally shot her. The woman was returning from paying for a parking receipt when the suspect approached her. She knocked the gun out of his hand, Pugel said, but the man recovered his handgun and shot her in the head. According to witnesses, police say, the man ran over the woman with her SUV as he left the scene.
After arriving shortly thereafter in the Delridge neighborhood in West Seattle, the suspect abandoned his car, leaving one of the guns inside, and contacted an acquaintance. "He roamed in very crowded areas for some time," Pugel continued. "The former acquaintance was not aware of what happened but said he was acting erratically, said he was talking nonsense and then acquaintance broke off contact." After hearing the news of shootings, that acquaintance called 911.
Police closed in on the suspect late in the afternoon, but before he could be apprehended, the man turned the gun on himself. He died last night at Harborview Medical Center.
Still unknown: Where the suspect lived, if he had a concealed weapons permit, or why he may have chosen Cafe Racer as his target. Police were also unable to confirm the suspect's mental health history.