“Every few days you’re hearing about gun violence, not just in Washington state but everywhere and it’s really nauseating. It’s sickening,” says Frani Assaf, who lost friends in the Cafe Racer shooting almost five months ago.
Assaf is among those who planted dozens of daffodil bulbs near Seattle’s Green Lake to remember victims of crimes involving guns. As she dug holes, she thought about “the worst day” of her life, May 30th.
That morning Ian Stawicki killed four people execution style at a North Seattle coffee house and bar. He then fled to downtown where he carjacked a woman for her SUV, and shot her in the head. Stawicki drove to West Seattle and killed himself.
Drew Keriakedes, one of the Cafe Racer victims, was Assaf’s friend.
“He believed in living life large, as he would say, and loving each other,” says Assaf. “It sounds really naive, but that’s what we’re trying to do now in his honor.”
Keriakedes had invited the gunman over to his house for a movie night a few days before the shooting because he didn’t want anyone to feel “left out” of society.
In the months following the shooting, Assaf says she’s had some sympathy for Stawicki.
“He definitely had mental health issues and he wasn’t getting support. We are such a throwaway society. We just throw people away,” she says. “The more I learned about him the sadder I felt for him, but I try not to put too much thought and energy towards him.”
Assaf and others want to put their energy toward stronger gun laws in Washington.
Even the gunman’s father, Walter Stawicki, says his son was “angry all the time” and shouldn’t have been allowed to get his hands on a weapon.
The King County Prosecutor plans to announce a proposal related to gun regulations in late November, according to a source, though details aren’t available.
The candidates for Attorney General have different personal experiences with guns, but both Reagan Dunn and Bob Ferguson are advocates of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Dunn has a concealed-weapon permit, says he owns around 30 firearms. Ferguson says he’s never owned a gun or fired a weapon.
Both candidates for governor, Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna say they support background checks for purchasing guns from private dealers at gun shows. Such checks are required when buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer.
Inslee says he’s open to the idea of allowing communities to pass more restrictive laws.
They also both believe the state needs more effective tools to deal with the mentally ill. Rob McKenna points out that his Attorney General’s office helped push through legislation that makes it harder for someone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution to buy a firearm.
That law wouldn’t have done much to change the Cafe Racer massacre because Stawicki wasn’t in an institution.
“No one ever thinks they’re going to lose someone to violence. I didn’t, but I’ve lost a friend and neighbor who was kind to everyone,” Assaf says. “It can happen to anyone.”
By LINDA THOMAS