Police: 'Hero' threw stools at shooter in cafe, saved lives


by KING 5 News


Posted on May 31, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 1 at 5:51 AM

SEATTLE -- Police described a "hero" at the Seattle cafe yesterday where a gunman went on a deadly rampage who threw stools at the assailant and saved people's lives.

Police say Ian Stawicki walked into Cafe Racer on Roosevelt Avenue Wednesday morning, killing one woman and three men and critically injuring a fifth person.

"I had the unfortunate opportunity to see the video of what happened at Cafe Racer. In my almost 30 years in this department, I have never seen anything more horrific, callous and cold," said Seattle Police Deputy Chief Nick Metz.

The "hero" - whom police identified by his first name as Lawrence - told police he was getting his usual morning coffee when Stawicki walked through the door.

"Just before it happened, I was looking at [Stawicki]. He'd just been told he was 86'd [from the café] in a very polite manner," Lawrence told the SPD Blotter.

Lawrence said he looked down at his phone for a moment, then heard gunfire.

"I hear the pop, pop, and people scrambling. I couldn't make sense of it. I didn't expect the gun to be that quiet," recounted Lawrence. "I thought 'this is really happening.'"

As Stawicki opened fire, Lawrence grabbed a bar stool.

"I just threw the frigging stool at him, legs first," he said. "My brother died in the World Trade Center. I promised myself, 'if something like this ever happened, I would never hide under a table.'"

Lawrence said Stawicki "looked at me like he didn't [care] at all. He just moved towards the rear of the bar instead of dealing with me at all, and I just brushed past him. He was on a mission to kill my friends."

Lawrence survived the attack and is now recovering from the tragic events.

"Yesterday I was all adrenaline," he said. "Today, my friends are dead. I'm just grieving right now."

As for the hero reference, Lawrence said, "I wasn't a hero."  He pointed to an employee who was wounded and able to call 911. "He's the hero."

During a news conference Thursday, Seattle Police Assistant Chief Jim Pugel shared what they believe is a timeline of the events, based on witness accounts, tips from the public, surveillance video and evidence.  Their timeline uncovered these additional new details:

  • Pugel said Stawicki used two guns in the attack - both .45-caliber semi-automatic guns. Officials are determining where the guns came from.
  • Stawicki reportedly took a hat from one of his victims and walked out of the cafe.
  • After Stawicki shot a woman in a First Hill parking lot, stole a car and fled to West Seattle, he abandoned the car and roamed high traffic areas in the neighborhood. He contacted an aquaintance, who was unaware of the shootings at the time. The acquaintance said Stawicki spoke erratically and irrationally and immediately broke off contact. When the acquaintance learned about the shootings, he contacted police.
  • Pugel said it was unclear how Stawicki got from the Roosevelt area to First Hill, but police were checking bus cameras to see if he had jumped on a Metro bus.
  • The 911 calls and police radio traffic from the May 30 shootings are available online.

After fleeing Cafe Racer, police said Stawicki targeted a Bellevue woman in a First Hill parking lot, shooting and killing her before stealing her car.  He fled to West Seattle, where he was apprehended by police.

But before the gunman could be questioned by police, he turned the gun on himself as officers approached him. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

With five dead and one person critically wounded, one question still remains.

"Why? This is completely senseless," said Pugel.

KING 5's Chris Daniels and Liza Javier and the Associated Press contributed to this report.