SEATTLE — An explosive day of violence ended Wednesday when a man believed to have shot five people in a cafe near the University District and a woman in a downtown parking lot shot himself in the head as police closed in.
“We strongly believe that this is the person that committed the homicides,” Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel told reporters after the dramatic face-off in West Seattle. The shootings left six people dead, including the suspect, and one critically wounded.
Among the four people killed at Cafe Racer, near the University of Washington, were two men who were members of the band God’s Favorite Beefcake, which had performed over the weekend at the city’s Folklife Festival, witnesses told KIRO television. One of the pair was also a sword swallower and fire breather who often performed in local burlesque shows, the station said.
Police initially were not certain whether the two incidents were related. The shootings had occurred within half an hour of each other but several miles apart.
Surveillance photos from the 11 a.m. shootings at the cafe showed a man with dark hair, a beard and a pale blue jacket.
In the second incident, which happened about 11:30 a.m., police said a man shot a woman and drove off in a black sport utility vehicle. It was found abandoned several miles away in West Seattle, with a gun on the seat.
While a massive dragnet was underway in the neighborhood near the cafe, plainclothes detectives began combing the area where the black SUV was found, Pugel said.
An officer in West Seattle saw a man who appeared to resemble the one in the cafe surveillance photos, Pugel said.
The officer called for backup. As uniformed officers and a SWAT team arrived, the man knelt down in the street and shot himself in the head, police said. He died later at a hospital.
Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson said witnesses had identified an item carried by the gunman in both shootings, which convinced them that a single man was responsible.
“We now feel confident in connecting the two,” Pugel told reporters.
A police source told the Seattle Times the suspect had been identified as Ian Lee Stawicki, 40, of Seattle. Stawicki’s family said he had mental problems that had led them to fear something could go wrong.
“It’s no surprise to me this happened,” his brother, Andrew Stawicki of Ellensburg, Wash., told the newspaper. “We could see this coming. Nothing good is going to come with that much anger inside of you.”
The five homicides Wednesday bring Seattle’s total this year to 21 — matching the total for all of 2011.