Followup: Former teacher says she’s the person Ian Stawicki left a plant for

New information just in regarding the story first reported here on Sunday night – a plant purchased by Ian Stawicki at West Seattle Nursery last Wednesday between the time he shot six people, five fatally, in North Seattle and on First Hill, and the time he shot himself in West Seattle. Seattle Public Schools has released a statement by the recipient, who is publicly identifying herself as a North Admiral resident who is a former teacher of his. This is the entirety of what we have received from SPS:

Statement from Patricia Guenther:

When I arrived at my home from work on Wednesday evening, May 30, I discovered a bag containing a blueberry plant and seed packets from the West Seattle Nursery, along with a pre-printed commercial thank you card (not personalized or signed) in a bag on my porch. I live in the North Admiral area of West Seattle.

There was no identifying information on the items and I did not know who left them there. I later learned that these items were purchased by Ian Stawicki, the shooter in the recent North Seattle and First Hill shootings, who was a former student of mine.

I have not had contact with Ian Stawicki since he was in my Summit K-12 School classroom almost 25 years ago, and I was surprised to learn that he was the source of the bag that was left on my porch.

I was in communication with the Seattle Police Department and the items were turned over to them.

No person, no neighborhood, no community is immune to being touched by tragedy. Please be compassionate with each other as we each process this recent heartbreaking event in our city in our own way.

I have no additional information and I ask that the media please respect my privacy.

SPS says she has requested that she not be contacted for interviews, and WSB will honor that request. Meantime, we asked Seattle Police today for any information they have regarding where else Stawicki went in West Seattle on Wednesday afternoon; Det. Mark Jamieson says they have nothing to release so far, but it remains an open investigation. P.S. Summit, in northeast Seattle, was closed by the district in 2009.

54 Replies to "Followup: Former teacher says she's the person Ian Stawicki left a plant for"

  • Ben "Jammin" June 4, 2012 (2:15 pm)

    How scary! Can you imagine how Ms. Guenther must feel knowing that Stawicki actually tracked down her home address?

  • Juicyfroot June 4, 2012 (2:21 pm)

    So it sounds like Guenther was not the acquaintance to whom Stawicki actually spoke that afternoon while he was walking around WS?

    • WSB June 4, 2012 (2:27 pm)

      There was no suggestion in what we’d heard earlier that he had actually made contact with the intended recipient of the plant, so you certainly could draw that conclusion. As noted here, police told us they have nothing to say at this point regarding what else they might have, or might have not, learned about his whereabouts, and since there are no charges pending, with the killer’s suicide, piecing together what he did is not a huge priority, though it certainly remains part of the open investigation – TR

  • WSFoodie June 4, 2012 (2:34 pm)

    This gets creepier with every report. I am so thankful to the Seattle PD for catching him when they did. I am also extremely thankful for the WS Blog for the way you reported the news as it unfolded, and continue to help fill in the gaps on this horrible story. We’ll never know, but in making people aware of the story in realtime, you might have actually saved lives last week.

  • Nitro June 4, 2012 (3:09 pm)

    North Admiral? Holy smokes, this guy went from Delridge, to West Seattle Nursery, to North Admiral and then back south to Raymond. Yikes. Is it possible to walk all those places in the amount of time he was free or was he riding the bus or something?

  • cjp June 4, 2012 (3:18 pm)

    I don’t see anything scary about it at all. The majority of all my grade school teacher’s names and addresses are in the phone book. It isn’t exactly highly skilled sleuthing to find someone like that.

    Despite the uncomfortable associations given his actions, I’d say a troubled individual who probably realizes at some level that he has hit rock bottom, and in that moment remembering something or someone from his past that meant something to him, enough to want to make a symbolic gesture is most poigniantly a reminder that Ian Stawicki was a human being who went through school and was affected by his time there, just like everyone of us.

    His actions may be monstrous… but he was just a man.

    There but for the roll of the dice go I , and all that, as they say.

  • sven June 4, 2012 (3:19 pm)

    @Ben — tracking down someone’s address isn’t that hard. With a name and a little bit of work, you can use public voter registration data to track down someone’s address quite easily in this state. I was able to find out the teacher’s address in less than 60 seconds. With a little know-how it’s scary how easy you can find this information out.

    I’m confused as to how Stawicki moved about West Seattle so quickly after ditching the car. I’m guessing he took the bus. Very interesting.

  • islewrite June 4, 2012 (3:22 pm)

    Thank you, Ms Guenther, for sharing the information. Outside the tragic aspects of the story, I’m hoping his present and thoughts of you came from a good place in his memory. Teachers have an amazing impact on our lives.

  • onceachef June 4, 2012 (3:28 pm)

    I agree…he obviously felt that Ms. Guenther was a positive factor in his life, although it seems he didn’t have many. Most likely it was a “thank you” for whatever she did for him 25 years ago…most likely helped him through some troubled times. Unfortunately, the “troubled times” won this one.

  • LafayetteMom June 4, 2012 (3:32 pm)

    The reason that I find this new update extremely alarming is that it confirms that this killer was in the neighborhood of Schmitz Park, Lafayette, Madison and West Seattle High, possibly even as the security precautions were lifted around 2:00 so that students could be released at the normal hour. It’s possible that Stawicki was in direct proximity of students who were released from school to walk home. If any students had been hurt by this madman, the district would have faced enormous liability, especially given the haphazard nature in which the district handled the decision-making and communication regarding student safety in this situation. Thankfully, no SPS students were hurt by Stawicki, but the district has a lot to answer for, and had better learn from this for any future incidents.

  • bkr June 4, 2012 (3:36 pm)

    Ummm…if I knew someone who had murdered 5 people earlier in the day, and they thought to buy me something and bring it to my house, I don’t know that I’d be “touched.” I’d be scared, and THANKFUL I wasn’t home. I don’t understand how these commenters can be so blas’e about it. Yes, it’s simple to find someone’s home address in this day and age, but to say, “I don’t see anything scary about it at all,” and then talk about how he was just a man…if she were home, who knows if he would have snapped and shot her too. Mental illness is saddening and, in this case, SCARY.

  • Lfauntleroy June 4, 2012 (4:23 pm)

    So very creepy but intriguing. When I think of the blueberry bush planted and bearing berries and cheerful peaceful harvesting for people to enjoy in things like cobbler and dessert and at happy times. I can’t decide if this blueberry bush should be planted? Or if it was me what I would do with it.
    @ cjp- thanks for the train of thought on all of that. I wonder about the destiny of that blueberry bush and it’s potential fruit.

  • Cclarue June 4, 2012 (4:43 pm)

    There would have been no way for the district to please everyone…. BUT i cant say im happy they just dismissed the kids as usual when we had zero indication he had left the peninsula:/ clearly you dont get to ws on accident from downtown.

  • Nichole June 4, 2012 (4:45 pm)

    Even more ticked off now that Madison let my son walk home…through north admiral!

  • Gyngersnap June 4, 2012 (4:58 pm)

    Thankfully, no SPS students were hurt by Stawicki, so what does the district have to answer for? And we all can learn from this for any future incidents that may or may not happen. It seems like people want to blame the school district for something, anything, even when nothing happens. So tiresome.

  • yo June 4, 2012 (5:13 pm)

    Thank you gyngersnap. This is a tragic situation and yet another opportunity to criticize what the SPS did or not do…

  • onceachef June 4, 2012 (5:19 pm)

    Well, for me anyway, it is a possibility that the one remaining moment of compassion Stawicki had in him on this awful day was spent thinking about a good thing in his life (Ms. Guenther)- and he stopped killing people because of it. The information about his whereabouts, who he actually was, etc., was sketchy at best until the final moments.
    It is tiresome (as Gyngersnap points out) to try and assign blame for everything…I’m sure the schools have the kids best interest in mind and work with other city agencies as much as possible to prevent any harm coming to them.

  • B June 4, 2012 (5:19 pm)

    Um…LafayetteMom he was in the vicinity of Pathfinder, Gatewood and West Seattle Elementary too. Not everything is all about your little neck of the woods.

  • Cecilia June 4, 2012 (5:38 pm)

    First, I will say that this speaks volumes for the importance teachers bear in our childrens’ lives.

    Second, I think that the high-level employees downtown (with 2 to few reports) have more responsibility for planning for those “unusual and high-risk” incidents than the building staff with 450+ charges. Who do you think will 911 put on hold? The school secretary or the Asst Supt of whatever at the district?

    Yes, we can thank our lucky stars Stawicki did not sacrifice more innocent souls. I say we move forward from this horrible day, and ensure our new Superintendent doesn’t make similar mistakes.

  • bobc June 4, 2012 (5:53 pm)

    So for all those worried about their children (legitimately so) I think if we knew all the facts I think we would find that they were in fact safe at all tmes. What I would like to know more about, and the police are remaining very quiet about (perhaps with good reason) is that some of the reports state that they had found the shooter and were tracking him waiting for additional backup support. I have to believe if this is true, that they knew he made no effort to go to any school or other public place, and if he had I believe they would have intervined sooner.

    And one more question to answer. How did he move around so quickly in West Seattle? Is it possible he had a vehicle? I suspect not. Can you get from WS Nusery at 1:40 to North Admiral (which can mean different things to different people) and back to 37th and Raymond on foot in just over an hour?. I suspect he could. Especially if North Admiral is actually an address south of Admiral Way which is how homes are often advertised for sale and how people describe their homes location.

  • 2 Much Whine June 4, 2012 (6:00 pm)

    For every person that is angry that the schools didn’t do enough there was another writing on the blog to counteract by saying the schools were being ridiculous and overreacting. Why do we have a need to blame someone for something that didn’t happen? Twenty years ago NONE of the schools would have even had a lock-down or shelter-in-place policy. Great strides have been made but apparently it’s never enough.

    On another note – I’m with Lfauntleroy – would it be best to plant the blueberries and celebrate life or to shun the plant and avoid the memories?

  • Nichole June 4, 2012 (7:01 pm)

    . Deleted ….will take my issue up with police and school board

  • SJoy June 4, 2012 (7:13 pm)

    Nichole-you are upset that Madison let your child walk home from school? Really? Last I checked, you are the parent. If you were that worried you should have picked your child up or made other arrangements to get you child home.

    The schools could only do what they thought was best at the time. Hindsight is 20/20. Not to mention that NOBODY knew it was the same guy and he was still in West Seattle.

    Maybe you and Lafayettemom can work for the superintendent and help him make those decisions. But for the mean time, pick up your kids if you are that concerned.

  • Karen (Old Desolate) June 4, 2012 (7:49 pm)

    I’m edging close to 70 but I still remember the kindnesses of my grade school and junior high teachers when I was tormented by other children because I didn’t fit in. Don’t know when the shooter planned to shoot himself exactly but perhaps his past life rushed by in a crazy ticker-tape sort of way shortly before he took his life and that kind teacher came to mind. Hence, his “thank you” to someone who was kind.

  • LafayetteMom June 4, 2012 (7:57 pm)

    B- Yes, good point. I’m sorry not to mention those schools. What I was meaning is that it was news to me that he had been known to be so far north. I had already known that he was in the vicinity of the schools you mentioned, since he was ultimately discovered near there. My apologies for any suggestion to the contrary. IMO, we’re all in this together, and I am a supporter of all WS schools. My beef is with the district for not A) communicating effectively with schools/teachers/families, and B)not following the direction of the SPD that did NOT recommend lifting the lockdown/shelter in place conditions that were in place in many of the WS schools at 2:00 PM when SPD was still unaware of the location of the shooter, at least publicly. As far as second-guessing the district, I just think they need to have a good plan in place for this type of scenario. We’re too large a district in too large a city not to have contingency plans in place.

  • Dunno June 4, 2012 (8:05 pm)

    This nightmare of a story has some twist that have to have you scratching your head. Anyone who thinks a great part of the population in West Seattle wasn’t at risk is crazy. On that day this guy was ready to kill anyone. Pretty scary. I’m amazed at how much territory in West Seattle he was able to get to in the 4 hours here.
    I hope that all agency’s involved learn from this horrible incident. Seem’s to me there were many flaws to go around. My biggest question is why did we not get a good desciption from Cafe Racer where people knew exactly what Ian looked like? I know police thought there were two diffent incidents, but still we should have been informed about Ian’s profile.
    Ms. Guenther, thank you for your service to many of our children. You made a diffenece in a mentally ill persons life, and most likely, in the end, saved other’s lives.

  • Seattle Mom June 4, 2012 (8:18 pm)

    A friend of mine, Char Sundust wrote this and I feel like it helps during this time:

    Great Spirit, Creator.

    We come to you with humble hearts and we ask for your comfort and healing. We are not a broken city but badly wounded and in grief for those we’ve lost. Members of our community, precious creatives, healers and visionaries have come to join you creator. We believe it is too soon for their divine appointment. We need your help. Please heal us of this violence creator, rearrange our hearts, remove from us any desire to harm anyone for any reason through word, thought or deed to harm anyone in anyway. May those who have crossed find their way to you, may they know the comfort of your angels, may they have a safe journey to their divine appointment with you. And may we be changed by this tragedy, may it open, deepen and transform us into people who care. May we mentor the youth and their gifts, focus on what is working instead of what isn’t, be in the prescription instead of the description. May our hearts be rearranged to make love the most important thing. It is the greatest healing power we carry. Infuse us with this wisdom, power and love. Please cherish, hold and comfort the families, friends, teachers and fans of those whose lives ended in this terrible tragedy. We need your help to teach us, to heal those who are wounded into their wholeness and well being and to carry us all to the wisdom of spirit. We pray that you will keep us in your safe light. Heal us as family, friends. Heal us as community and lush green city. Guide us to change so this never happens again. Thank you very much creator. Bless us, heal us.

    Aho. Amen.

  • Noelle June 4, 2012 (8:41 pm)

    WSFoodie is right . . . This gets creepier and creepier with every report!

  • westello June 4, 2012 (8:47 pm)

    The “thankfully” comment should not go to the district but to luck.

    It’s not luck that any parent should depend on for the safety of their child at school. The district may not have known the extent of the killer’s roaming but they knew he was still at large during the school day.

    I would not trust luck to protect my child during a school day crisis but others may have a differing opinion.

  • miws June 4, 2012 (9:12 pm)

    I commend Ms. Guenther for having the courage to step forward and share this information, and wish her well in dealing with any negative effects this event may have had on her.


    As far as SPS; as the West Seattle connection started unfolding early on in the Delridge area, with no other area of WS, at that time, seeming to be involved, I was quite surprised by such a wide area S-I-P.


    With all that we know now, I’m very relieved it was implemented in such a manner.



  • SarahScoot June 4, 2012 (9:31 pm)

    Guys: West Seattle Nursery offers free delivery in West Seattle. Nowhere in this story is it stated that Stawicki himself delivered the plant; in fact, the earlier report said the nursery employees reported him leaving a plant for someone.
    I don’t agree with the panic (and I say that as someone who lives on the block on which Stawicki shot himself), but for those of you who *are* upset that he may have been in North Admiral, you can rest easy knowing it was just a friendly WS Nursery employee in your ‘hood.

    • WSB June 5, 2012 (3:14 am)

      SarahS – there was nothing mentioned about a delivery in our conversation with the nursery folks. I also looked around since a couple citywide outlets saw our story and followed up on it, to see if their versions had anything different; KIRO TV, which went so far as to have a crew staking out the nursery (with live shots) hours before they opened, wrote specifically in their version that he took it to the ex-teacher’s home:

  • truth June 4, 2012 (9:31 pm)

    Thank you Seattle Mom….ahhh so very refreshing

  • T June 4, 2012 (9:51 pm)

    My son came home from Pathfinder calm and knew something had happened, but couldn’t remember, then told me there was a note in his backpack. They did a fabulous job making sure the students were safe and everything stayed calm. I work in another school a couple if miles from Cafe Racer. We went into lockdown, then S-I-P, and dismissed students at their regular time. If anything looked like he was targeting a school, I am sure they would have followed a different dismissal procedure. If all this guy wanted to do was kill as many people as he could, there would have been many more deaths, including on his route to W Seattle Nursery.
    I am very happy with how my son’s teacher handled the situation appropriately and calmly for kindergarten students.
    Even with more information, it doesn’t sound like he was a threat to the schools and if you don’t like how it was handled, then see if you can attend some meetings and/or volunteer to be on an emergency preparedness committee. They can’t foresee every scenario and I think they did well with what information they had.

  • mehud June 4, 2012 (10:16 pm)

    I am confused. How did Ms. Guenther know the plant and card were from Stawicki if the card was not signed? And did she call the police to report that a plant was left on her porch? I am not doubting her story just don’t understand.

  • Really June 4, 2012 (10:46 pm)

    My son was not released from Madison he had to stay there until someone could pick him up. This was at 4:30 after his afterschool activity. So I assume the school had more information by then and did not want students walking home we live on the same block as the school you can see our house from the school and he was not allowed to go. Thank you Madison as I was worried and in lock down at the office in downtown I arranged for someone to pick up my son.

  • evergreen June 4, 2012 (11:25 pm)

    I think the whole blueberry plant incident was part of the guy’s active psychosis, not some sweet gesture. Who knows what was going on in his head. I feel sad for his family & all of the other families who were impacted by this.

  • Shameful June 5, 2012 (6:57 am)

    I can’t believe some of these comments. If you want to retroactively hide under the bed, that’s your problem, but it sure doesn’t put West Seattle in a positive light.

    Roosevelt is dealing with some serious stuff right now, and we’re playing a silly game of what-if. How self-absorbed and neurotic. What’s happening to us?

  • The Shadow June 5, 2012 (8:05 am)

    It’s not the blueberry plant’s fault that it was chosen by IS. Plant the thing and let it do what God intended. Fresh blueberries are tasty.

    Regarding the decision of which schools to lock down: hindsight is always 20/20. SPS made the best decision they could with the information they had; give them a break.

  • 2 Much Whine June 5, 2012 (8:34 am)

    cmon mehud, put two and two together. Ms. Guenther said “There was no identifying information on the items and I did not know who left them there. I later learned that these items were purchased by Ian Stawicki, the shooter in the recent North Seattle and First Hill shootings, who was a former student of mine.” Don’t you think that when she heard about Ian and realized he’d been a student of hers she was able to piece it together? I know if someone that I was in Boy Scouts with that I hadn’t seen in many, many years won the lottery (to put a positive spin on things) and was seen in West Seattle and suddenly a new car showed up at my house first I’d wonder what was going on and then I might think of all the reasons to have this show up at my house and the most probable would be that connection from years ago. It’s not a stretch to think that she recognized the name as a former student and deduced he was responsible for the plant (especially after it was determined that he bought a blueberry plant and that’s exactly what appeared at her house out of the blue).

  • ad June 5, 2012 (10:19 am)

    One of the talk radio stations (I forget) said that the recipient of the blueberry bush, seeds & blank thank-you card called the Nursery and asked if they knew who had bought it. The nursery said “it was a gift” and she said but “this was not a gift…” and it creeped her out.

  • alkiobserver June 5, 2012 (11:06 am)

    Nothing touching or endearing about this twist to that horrible set of crimes by Stawicki. Just totally creepy and scary that that homicidal maniac was wandering around West Seattle with a loaded gun that he showed a willingness and ease to use with deadly recklessness and disregard. Too bad the monster couldn’t have started off his shooting spree in the opposite order. Should have just taken himself out first.

  • Walking the NIMBY fence June 5, 2012 (11:55 am)

    Arguing semantics here. People are asking how the teacher could be ‘touched’ by Ian’s actions – touched in the sentimental, heartfelt way. This is not the case. What she said is that no one in our community has gone untouched, as in, this has effected all of us. Also, I agree with other posters who point out that teachers can have an everlasting impact of their students.

  • Marianne June 5, 2012 (12:22 pm)

    2 Much Whine-now that was rude.

    ad-thank you for the clarification.

  • Cecilia June 5, 2012 (3:58 pm)

    SJoy, wrong! Then you are part of the (admittedly, minor) problem.

    2 much, are you one of the multitude who does not learn from history? I will give the Seattle Public Schools credit where credit is due. However, I see too many times where building staff is left hung out to dry with too little staff, and too often, highly-paid, central staff who refuse to answer to anyone other than their limited “internal” cohort. The rest of us are left to hang.

    We must learn from this.

  • r-u-tuning-in June 5, 2012 (11:18 pm)

    I think the most important question is: why did Ian Stawicki own so many registered hand guns?

    Ian Stawicki should not have owned any hand guns. He did not need a gun. None of us (or very few) need a hand gun, especially here.

    Hand guns are designed for one purpose: to kill human beings. It can be in self-defense, by accident, or through horrific acts of violence which continue to rock our community.

    If you own a hand gun, you can make an effort to keep your gun from killing another human being: have it destroyed.

  • amom June 5, 2012 (11:28 pm)

    Amen Sjoy. So tired of parents abdicating their responsibilities. I had 3 kids at 3 different schools that day the schools kept them safe while they were at school, when schools out I picked them up. I don’t see the problem.

  • 2 Much Whine June 6, 2012 (6:28 am)

    Rude? (scratches head)

  • denise June 6, 2012 (7:44 am)

    Sorry, if this sounds weird but I hope you did not plant the bush.

  • WMF June 6, 2012 (11:57 am)

    Not a single child was hurt. I’d say that means the schools did their jobs.

    Can’t believe someone would say he should have just shot himself first. Your tone would be different if you had loved ones with mental illnesses.

    Most of you see a monster who shouldn’t have been allowed access to firearms. I see a very sick man, who needed a lot more help than he got.

    I think the blueberry plant signifies that at the core, he was a human being with a heart. I think it should most definitely be planted.

    You are now welcome to pick apart my statements and tell me how wrong I am.

  • Heather June 8, 2012 (1:36 am)

    @WMF…I think you are absolutely correct. Plant the bush, let something beautiful come out of something so ugly and tragic. Let the healing begin….

  • ellar June 8, 2012 (9:23 am)

    The “bush” was taken into police custody as evidence. No one will be planting “the bush”.

  • ellar June 8, 2012 (9:27 am)

    His family knew he was mentally ill. His family knew he had firearms. Now that the damage is done they are saying they could have seen it coming. So why didn’t they attempt to get between him and his guns? Because they’d be dead now.

  • denise June 8, 2012 (9:31 pm)

    No Heather. I am sorry. If that was my child …. I would not want to think of a bush growing under these circumstances.

Sorry, comment time is over.