(Click “play” above to see the archived video of the briefing)
2:29 PM: Coming up shortly – announced for 2:30 pm but might not start on time – police leadership and the mayor are scheduled to present another briefing with new information about yesterday’s multiple murders in North Seattle and on First Hill, followed by the suspect’s suicide in West Seattle (our afternoon/evening Wednesday coverage is here). Seattle Channel says it’ll broadcast the briefing live, so we’re putting up the video window now – when the briefing begins, you should be able to see it by clicking the “play” button. Our partners at the Seattle Times have learned more about the people who were murdered – you can find the latest links on their home page. Toplines from today’s briefing, as they come.
2:40 PM UPDATE: The briefing has yet to begin, but the City Attorney’s Office has sent the media a packet of background on suspect Ian Stawicki‘s history – both with guns, and with crime. Regarding the former, he had a concealed-weapons permit from Kittitas County, and was listed as owning six guns. For the latter, he was cited for a gun violation, and had a domestic violence arrest, in which the victim did not want to press charges. (For those still wondering why he ended up here, for what it’s worth, there is nothing in the documentation that indicates any ties to West Seattle.)
2:46 PM UPDATE: The briefing has begun. Deputy Chief Nick Metz, who briefed reporters at the West Seattle scene that ended a violent and tragic day, says he has viewed the video recording of the shootings that killed four at Cafe Racer in the north end, and he has “never seen anything more horrific.” He says over the course of the day it became “a citywide crisis” and he is giving praise to the police and fire personnel who were so busy with everything that happened over the span of 5 hours – including the dispatchers, the “unsung heroes,” he calls them. “Those dispatchers are the lifeline to the community and to our officers.” Next, he says, Assistant Chief Jim Pugel will explain where the investigation stands.
2:52 PM: A/Chief Pugel says the investigation is open and will likely remain so for several weeks, even though SPD is “confident” that Stawicki is the “only” suspect in the two shootings that killed five people. He is now going back over the timeline, starting with the first 911 call at 11:01 am. He too mentions watching the video, and saying, “in 30 years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything like that.” And he says “there is a hero” – who was sitting next to the suspect “when the suspect started shooting … and picked up a stool and threw it at the suspect … picked up another stool and hit the suspect … During that time two, possibly three people, made their escape .. so he saved three lives.” The first call about the second shooting came in at 11:32 am, says the assistant chief. He says they’re not sure what route the suspect traveled to get to West Seattle. He says a “lady warned him” that he was parked in a “tow zone. … He contacted an old acquaintance in SW Seattle and roamed in very crowded areas for some time. This former acquaintance did not know what had happened, said he was acting erratically, talking nonsense, and this acquaintance broke off the contact. Once that acquaintance heard the information on the suspect, they immediately contacted us.” Once a photo was distributed, an intel officer saw him, “could not make a safe stop,” so backups were called in … and as they approached him, “that’s when he … killed himself,” says the assistant chief, now taking questions.
3:01 PM: The two guns found were both .45 caliber semi-automatic handguns, says Pugel, during Q/A. He is asked more about the heroism he mentioned, and what was on the video of the shooting. Stawicki, he said, put a victim’s hat on his head, after “complet(ing) the shooting,” and walked out. The hero also provided “critical information,” he said. It will be up to the hero to decide whether to speak to the media or identify himself publicly, he also has said. Stawicki was “calm” during the shootings, he added. The woman who owned the Mercedes SUV he drove here was apparently getting a parking receipt when she encountered Stawicki, he says. They are not sure yet how he got from the café to that scene in 8th/Seneca – whether by car or by bus or some other way. Why he chose to abandon the car where he did, on Delridge, they don’t yet know. Why were schools allowed to dismiss students with him still on the loose? Pugel says, we had no idea where he was, we always leave it up to the school to be the final arbiter on when they release. He says they made sure top police brass were in contact and had officers at schools that decided to let out. They are not sure whether Stawicki was currently living in Seattle or elsewhere. He did choose specifically to go to West Seattle, the assistant chief said.
3:12 PM: And after the mayor was asked about gun laws and attitudes – he reiterated that there has to be a change in the attitude that it’s OK to walk around armed – the news conference ended. When the Seattle Channel archives the video for playback, we’ll re-add it to this story; everything that was said about the West Seattle angle is included above.
3:42 PM: Two postscripts. One, we have added the above photo – police said that a “bag” was the item that linked the two shootings; no description provided, but WSB’s Christopher Boffoli points out he photographed the one above at the scene. Also, the information provided by police today seems to corroborate a phone call we received yesterday, not long before everything ended with the 37th/Raymond suicide, from a WSB reader who said a friend of hers had called her because she had been contacted by someone she knew, who needed a ride, but was acting strangely; the caller said her friend later heard more about the shootings and wondered if that person was the shooter, so she contacted police. The caller told us her friend had mentioned a name … “Ian.”
4:33 PM: SPD Blotter tells a little more about the Café Racer hero’s story. Meantime, Seattle Public Schools has sent a letter elaborating on their security procedures – read on:
Dear Seattle Public Schools staff, families and community,
During the past few weeks we have heard reports of an unsettling number of violent
crimes in our region. These senseless acts leave us stunned and heartbroken.
While these incidents did not occur in our school buildings, I want you to know that
we closely monitor the neighborhoods around our schools for safety. While our
mission is to make sure our students graduate prepared for college, career and life,
safety comes first. When you entrust us with your child’s education, we know you are
also trusting that they will be safe at school.
We work with the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department on an ongoing
basis to ensure our school buildings are a safe place for our students to learn and
for our instructors to teach. When an incident occurs near one of our schools we
are in constant contact with the police department to determine if a school building
should be secured. On Wednesday, we followed the direction of the Seattle Police
Department in securing our schools. As a precautionary measure, some principals also
voluntarily locked their school buildings.
I am proud of our principals and school staffs for working quickly with District
Safety and Security personnel as well as the Seattle Police Department to make sure
schools were secured. I am also proud of our students for remaining calm. While many
students were not aware of Wednesday’s events as they unfolded, I do know that for
some of our students and families these last few weeks have been stressful. I
encourage you and your students to talk to the staff at your school if you are
concerned or if you have questions about your school’s specific safety plans.
Finally, while I hope we never face another situation involving the security of
multiple schools, I want to assure families that we will communicate information as
quickly and accurately as possible in times of uncertainty. We recognize that some
families were unable to get information quickly on Wednesday, and I know that is
frustrating. During times of crisis, we will continue to provide accurate updates to
the media, and you can also find more information online at www.seattleschools.org;
via Twitter @seapubschools or by calling customer service at 206-252-0010.
I want to offer my sincere condolences to those who lost loved ones in these recent
tragedies. It is my hope that we can come together and support one another as a
Susan Enfield, Ed.D.
Seattle Public Schools