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‘Hero’ in Seattle Mass Murder Threw Stools at Shooter

by Shooting Times News   |  June 5th, 2012 37

This image from a security camera at the Cafe Racer shows Ian Stawacki after shooting several patrons. (Photo from the Seattle Police Department)

By now, we’ve probably all heard about the horrifying Seattle mass murder May 30 at the coffee shop Cafe Racer, in which 40-year-old Ian Stawicki took five lives plus his own. Shortly after the tragedy, however, details emerged from Seattle police that indicated the actions of one man may have stopped the homicidal maniac from taking any more lives.

According to the Seattle Weekly, a man identified only by his first name, Lawrence, told the Seattle Police Department that he had noticed Stawicki being asked to leave by the barista. According to police reports, Stawicki had previously been banned from the cafe. Police say Stawicki — a licensed concealed-carrier with a history of mental health issues — then walked up behind a man who was leaving, pulled one of his two .45-caliber handguns and shot the man in the back of the head before opening fire on the rest of the cafe.

In a statement to the police, Lawrence said:

Lawrence says he looked down at his phone for a moment, and then, he says, “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. I thought ‘this is really happening.’As Stawicki opened fire in the café, Lawrence, grabbed a bar stool and used it to try to fight off Stawicki and defend his friends.

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

Four people in the cafe — Drew Keriakedes, 45, Joe “Vito” Albanese, 52, Kimberly Layfield, 38, and Donald Largen, 57 — had been fatally shot, and a fifth victim — a 52-year-old mother of two named Gloria Koch Leonidas — was killed as Stawicki stole her car. He later took his own life as he was confronted by police, ending the horrifying ordeal.

Despite his heroic actions, Lawrence told police he wasn’t the real hero during the ordeal, instead pointing to the wounded cafe employee who dialed 911, “lucidly” giving the police giving police information about the shooting.

Though regarded as a hero — as well he should be — Lawrence told police he is still recovering from the incident, and requesting privacy before he can give a public statement.

“Yesterday I was all adrenaline,” he said. “Today, My friends are dead. I’m just grieving right now.”

  • Jed Broshing

    So if he had a history of mental illness how did he get the CCW's?
    I can see the lawsuits lining up already.

    • Steve

      Well, what kind of mental illness? A debilitating fear of vacuum cleaners is a mental illness, but then so are homicidal tendencies….

  • Tanstaafl2

    A Glock and a magazine full of .45 hollowpoints would have made this hero much more effective.

  • Arnon

    Wash state will no doubt soon make stools illegal.

  • Jon Y.

    yeah, i agree w/Jed…how did he get a CCW having an unstable background?

  • Duck n Cover

    Honestly, concealed carry permits are granted way too freely in some states. I love guns, but I really don't want everyone walking around with one on the streets. Whether someone is whacky insane, or just a bad shot, bullets flying around in public doesn't make one feel safe.

    • Tired os BS

      I’m sure if he didn’t have a CCW permit he wouldn’t have carried a gun. I know no one carried one before there where permits.I think its time we ban craziness. I for one am tired of the daily insanity around this country.

      • rlarsen123

        Wait, you are sure he wouldn't have carried a gun if he didn't have a permit? And what exactly, does ban craziness mean? Do you honestly think people go to the trouble of obtaining a permit so they won't be ILLEGAL when they commit mass murder? CRIMINALS ARE GOING TO OBTAIN FIREARMS TO HURT PEOPLE. I too am tired of the insanity in this country, i just don't think we are speaking of the same insanity. I'd like to live in your make-believe world, and if, in that make believe world, if the criminals all leave their guns at home, I'd be happy to also. And sorry to bust your bubble, but people have been carrying guns for a lot longer than there have been carry permits. Do you think the murderer would have committed the same actions if everyone in that establishment WAS carrying a gun?

        • mongolv

          I think Tired os BS was being sarcastic.

          • rlarsen123

            Then I extend my apologies for ranting. But I stand by my statements.

        • GunsRtools

          So very true. And if everyone in the cafe had been carrying a gun I guarantee that woman he killed while stealing her car, would still be alive because he wouldn't have made it out of there alive! And maybe he would have not been able to kill as many inside either! I carry a gun and have done so since I was 21 and it has saved my life a couple times.

        • Alan_T

          Tired , WAS BEING SARCASTIC to make his point .

      • Sam

        You cannot "Know" that no one carried them before CCW. You "feel" that way but it does not make it accurate fact.

        • The Other Sam

          I carried before there were permits. Some of the neighborhoods where I had to go for a job were so bad that only a fool would have gone unarmed.

    • Alan_T

      So Duck ….. Honestly …… how do you feel about a misanthrope bashing your head in with a baseball bat . How about knives , how do you honestly feel about knives slicing & dicing the innocent ? How about the world's most popular murder weapon ( not to mention the United States' ) the hammer ? How do you feel about it , are concealed carry permits granted way to freely for hammers ? Honestly , how do you feel about not being able to protect yourself when you are confronted by a group of people intent on doing you injury , they're armed and you're not ? Do you think it's someone else's obligation to protect you and your loved ones , Honestly ? Do you think they'll be there when you need them ? Honestly ?
      Well , honestly , I have way less fear of people holding CCW's and a handgun than I do of people holding opinions like yours ! Honestly .

      • Sally G

        @Alan_T me too Alan

        • Al Brady

          An armed society is a polite society!

  • rlarsen123

    I don't think the concealed carry topic is all that relevant here. Yes, he should not have attained a permit with an unstable mental background, but it should be fairly apparent that said shooter would have produced a firearm anyway. Kudos to the bar stool hero, but if close enough to smack with a stool, also close enough to end confrontation quickly and reasonably safely with a firearm, correct? So, is the real question too many carry permits, or not enough people carrying in the first place? I will continue to carry at all times allowed, (BTW, anyone know if firearms were even "permitted" by coffee establishment?), because I am now responsible for my children as well as myself, and it should be obvious that police actions are not going to be the first responders in a situation like this. It is up to us.

    • Alan_T

      Amen rlarsn123 !

  • Billp

    Seattle is now off the list of places to move to, too many wackos live there too

  • JayJay

    The entire country is unsafe for criminals because of bar stools. All bar stools should be registered
    and then confiscated.

    • Alan_T

      Yeah JayJay ! Why , I bet there was a whole arsenal of unregistered bar stools ! What does anyone need with that many bar stools ? ! It's a disgrace , we lead the world in bar stool violece ! We , in this country NEED common – sense bar stool laws ! OH ! …. Won't someone please think of the children ? ! ! !

      • Sally G

        LOL@Alan_T and JayJay

      • Irv1911

        "Won't someone please think of the children?" It is because of bar stools that there are so many children in this country. Only licensed and certified users should be allowed to even sit on bar stools. They are the leading cause of obesity, foolish behavior, shenanigans, mindless boasts, and unwanted pregnancies. The govt. needs to do something about this national embarrassment.

        • Alan_T

          I'm with you Irv ! Bar stools should only be in the hands of police , well regulated militias and the late Sen . Ted Kennedy ! ! !
          Irv , I'm appointing you to spearhead our movement and to look into the feasibility of starting our own ( but only if it's profitable ) non – profit commission to fund community " buy – back " projects to get these demonic bar stools off our streets . Irv , I'm also thinking you should look into getting Hilary ( It Take A Village And Anybody But The Parents To Raise A Child ) Clinton and Michelle ( I'm Anybody But The Parents ) Obama to co – chair our endeavor . Mrs . Obama could sell $ 500, 000.oo a plate tickets to eat lunch with Chairman ….. I MEAN …. President Obama !
          Irv , I just had a thought , I bet if we tell Mike Bloomburg that sometimes people consume Coca ~ Colas and other soda pops while sitting on bar stools , he'll bankroll our whole project ! ! !

        • hotdog46

          Unwanted pregnancies indeed, Sir! I submit that it would be rather too uncomfortable. I stipulate, however, that it would demonstrate remarkable ability, however.

  • Old Sarge

    Anyone can crack and flip out. But where would you draw the line at determing if someone is unstable. Would you ban a person for getting help for depression after the lose of a spouse. Or would you ban an ex-military person for getting help for PTSD. If a person who have major anger problems that makes them lash out at other people then yes. But the problem is they have to be proven unstable. The Anti-gun people will have a field day with this one. To them anyone that carries a firearm is unstable and should be banned from owning one. Catch 22 anyone?

    • Alan_T

      Amen Sarge !

  • Wayne the Shrink

    "A history of mental instability" is a meaningless statement. Most of us who are married and/or have raised children could be so accused. If he has never been involuntarily committed to a mental inpatient facility he is legally qualified to purchase a firearm by federal law. States can control concealed carry more severely, but need very specific and meaningful limits. If you have ever seen a psychologist or psychiatrist are you incapable of concealed carry? Ever had a diagnosis? (If you have ever seen one you have a diagnosis – unless you paid cash!) Just where do you want the line drawn?

    Please note that, short of involuntarily commitment there is no easily drawn line that does not include a lot of people who are essentially normal and appropriate.

    Yes, I am a licensed clinical psychologist.

  • Alan_T

    Bless you and thank you Wayne ! ….. uh …. say Doc …… you gotta minute ? I've been having this dream every night where I'm dressed up in this chicken suit and being chased by this guy that goes by the handle of " Jeepers Creepers " and …… uh ….. Doc …..Doc ……. come back ! ….. Doc ?

  • MyFreedom1776

    I hope that guy had a CCW for those stools!! Maybe we can ask our favorable ATF folks if they are going to charge the man for not having a permit to throw stools!!

    Sorry, just venting against those thug, jack booted idiots at the BATFE!!

  • larry l

    i"ll say that the background checks are in need of an update!

  • Alan_T

    Wayne the Shrink , I called your office to try to get an appointment and when I gave them my name …… your receptionist hung up on me ! ! ! Doc , I was just trying to ….. uh …. Doc …… are you there , Doc ? ….. Doc ? …. Uh .. Wayne you there ? ….. Doc ?

  • joehbro

    next time beat the guy to death with the stool instead of just throwing it… or just "throw" some bullets at the bad guy and it would be a lot easier…

  • TJ27

    I understand what you're saying Wayne. I am unsure how regulations are in Washington, but in PA it is pretty straight forward. To those that are unfamiliar, you must keep in mind that all mental health treatment is kept confidential at all times and generally not reported to anyone other than insurance providers or other health professionals, except for a couple instances;
    1) The treatment of mental health is deemed by involuntary basis which in most states prohibits those individuals from possessing (registering/purchasing) a firearm, and entering the military/police/etc as well as other circumstances, unless expunged off their record.
    2) There is a duty to warn, otherwise meaning that the individual seeking treatment stated to a mental health professional or a professional abided to HIPPA, they had intent on harming or killing a specific target(s).
    I work in patient mental health as a clinician and this is unsettling to me. Ive seen some extremely ill people. However, there is absolutely no way in telling if someone has a history of mental distress unless they had a petitioner file for involuntary treatment against them, or someone had a duty to warn regarding them. Scary thought, isn't it? Many people suffer from a form of mental health problem but doesn't necessarily mean they're unstable although there are others that should not even be within 100 ft of a weapon, firearm or otherwise!

  • JfromMD

    Look, everyone of us knows someone who we are not comfortable with having guns. Just for discussion's sake: Perhaps a tighter baseline background check with a shift of the burden to prove suitability to the individual who doesn't make the cut. The problem is keep the anti-gunners from making the background check biased. The only way I see this being feasible is, by law, requiring the character/stability part of the check to be identical to that used for school/hospital employees.

  • Just saying

    So, do we know if this wack-o was in fact crazy prior to obtaining his ccw? It is very possible that over time, he became unstable.

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