Police laud 'hero' in Seattle shootings

By Shannon Dininny

Associated Press

Published: Friday, June 1 2012 6:35 a.m. MDT

Police investigate the scene where a man who was believed to have shot and killed several people earlier in the day shot himself Wednesday, May 30, 2012, in the West Seattle neighborhood of Seattle. A gunman opened fire at a Seattle cafe earlier Wednesday, killing three people and critically wounding two others and later a man believed to be the same suspect shot and killed a woman and took her car near downtown, abandoning it less than two miles from where the alleged shooter shot himself as officers closed in on him, authorities said. His condition wasn't immediately known.

Elaine Thompson, Associated Press

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SEATTLE — 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."

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