Police are still trying to piece together why a man walked into an arts cafe near a Seattle university and opened fire, fatally wounding four people. According to law enforcement, the massacre occurred before the man killed a woman during a carjacking.
As officers closed in during a widespread manhunt late Wednesday afternoon, the suspect put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. He died at a local hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.
According to the Associated Press, the five victims brought the number of homicides in Seattle so far this year to 21, matching the total for all of last year, and left city leaders wondering what could be done to stop the bloodshed.
Mayor Mike McGinn told reporters:
"Two tragic shootings today ... have shaken this city…It follows on the heels of multiple, tragic episodes of gun violence that have occurred throughout the city."
Police did not publicly name the suspect in Wednesday's shootings, but the Seattle Times identified him as Ian Lee Stawicki, 40, of Seattle and according to his brother Andrew Stawicki, 29, Ian was mentally ill.
"It's no surprise to me this happened," he told the newspaper. "We could see this coming. Nothing good is going to come with that much anger inside of you."
Gunfire erupted about 11 a.m. at Cafe Racer, a restaurant and music venue north of the University of Washington.
As reported by the Associated Press:
Police quickly released two photos from inside the cafe, apparently taken from a security camera. One showed a man walking into the establishment, with a woman nearby reading a book and people chatting at the nearby cafe bar.
Another photo about a minute later showed stools overturned, and the man standing and holding what appeared to be a handgun.
Two men died at the cafe, and a third man and a woman from the cafe died at a hospital.
Police said it appeared the gunman fled to the First Hill neighborhood near downtown, where he fatally shot a woman in a parking lot and stole her SUV.
He then drove the SUV to West Seattle and ditched it, leaving a gun in the car. After officers found the vehicle, they flooded that area with uniformed and plainclothes officers.
A detective spotted the suspect late in the afternoon and called for backup and a SWAT team, Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel said. As those officers arrived, the man shot himself, he said.
A King County medical examiner's spokeswoman said her office might be able to release the dead victims' identifications Thursday.
One man wounded in the cafe shooting was reported in critical but stable condition Thursday morning at Harborview Medical Center following surgery earlier in the day. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg confirmed his name as Leonard Meuse. Meuse's father, Raymond Meuse, told the Times his son was shot in the jaw and armpit but was expected to survive.
Another random shooting attack that claimed the lives of innocent people has shaken a peaceful community. It’s time we had a serious discussion about gun control in this country.