Police: 'Hero' saved lives in Seattle shootings

May 31, 2012

“I just threw the frigging stool at him, legs first. 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 were slain when Ian Lee Stawicki started shooting Wednesday morning inside Cafe Racer.

At a news conference Thursday, police said a man sitting next to Stawicki was a "hero" because he threw stools at the gunman when he stood up and opened fire. Several people were able to flee the cafe during this time.

“The hero picked up a stool and threw it at the suspect. Hit him. Picked up another stool as the suspect is shooting and now pointing at him, and hits him with another stool. During that time, two or possibly three people made their escape. And the suspect was between them and the door. So he saved three lives," said Seattle Police Department Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel.

The man who confronted Stawicki survived the shootings. Police say Stawicki used two .45 caliber handguns during the attack.

Stawicki killed himself later Wednesday as police closed in on him.

The Seattle Police Department published this account:

Amidst a hail of gunfire, a longtime patron of Cafe Racer bravely fought to save his friends from a gunman, who went on a violent rampage Wednesday.

Today, that patron—who we’re identifying by his first name, Lawrence—offered up a chilling account of the violence he witnessed inside the cafe yesterday, and explained how another tragic loss in his life led him to fight the gunman.

Lawrence, who says he’s been getting his morning coffee at Café Racer for “the last few years,” was sitting in the cafe when Ian Stawicki walked through the door just before 11 am.

“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 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.”

Stawicki, Lawrence says, “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.”

“I wasn’t a hero,” Lawrence says, pointing out that a café employee, who was wounded in the shooting, was able to call 911 and “lucidly” give police information about the shooting. “He’s the hero,” Lawrence says.

Now, Lawrence is trying to recover from Wednesday’s tragic events. “Yesterday I was all adrenaline,” he says. “Today, My friends are dead. I’m just grieving right now.”

Lawrence agreed to release a statement through SPD, but says he’s not ready to do interviews with the press, and asks for privacy as he grieves for his friends.