For Cafe Racer survivor, getting back to work is part of healing process



Posted on July 13, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 14 at 5:12 PM

A violent outburst at Cafe Racer in late May led to one of the deadliest days in Seattle. Within hours six people were dead.

Weeks later, the lone survivor of the people shot by Ian Stawicki.

Leonard Meuse didn't know what to expect when he returned to the place where his friends were killed, a place where he had miraculously escaped death.

“It  was just a big bloody mess.”

But Meuse didn't actually see any of it. The pastry chef and occasional bartender had been told help get Stawicki -- a regular customer whose eratic and abusive behavior got him banned -- out of the cafe.

Meuse offered Stawicki a coffee to go. When he turned to make the coffee, he was shot twice: once in the face, another in the stomach.

He woke up in a hospital bed 5 days later.

Today Meuse can laugh about the injuries but admits it's been a tough 6 weeks.

"Everyone rightfully feels they have a personal relationship with the place, me, and what happened. Nobody got away clean," he said.

Part of Meuse's healing process is helping get Cafe Racer back open.

“I stood out there for 15 minutes, just looking, and you know people kept stopping and hugging me, and I was really weak, first time here," he said.

Going back inside was difficult, but Meuse forced himself to enter.

"No demons, nothing leaping out at me. Just wanted to get back to work," he said.

Now he's pushing forward finding some comfort in a place where there was so much sorrow and loss. Stranger have become friends, helping to heal, erase the pain.

There’s a brand new bar, and new paint on the walls.

It’s a labor of love. This tragedy touched people all over the globe. People in Germany and Italy have sent donations to support the rebuilding, and the money keeps trickling in. The reopening is planned for sometime next week.