Cafe Racer survivor: 'If you stop, it's kind of the same as giving up'

SEATTLE -- Thursday marks one year since a gunman opened fire at Cafe Racer. Ian Stawicki killed five people and himself that morning in May.

Now, one year later, flowers from a worker's wedding rest in front of the restaurant and survivors of Stawicki's violence are determined not to let one man's horrific actions kill their sense of community.

Wednesday brought an unusual sight that's not so surprising to see in front of the quirky cafe -- the restaurant's general manager pouring coffee for commuters.

"It's a rough commute this morning, so figured out, come out here give people something good to look forward to," said Rice Powers.

Powers started working at the U-District cafe three weeks before Stawicki gunned down four customers and shot a mother of two during his getaway.

"I showed up and there were cops everywhere," Powers said.

He remembers kicking Stawicki out for excessive swearing days before the murders. Then, on May 30, an angry Stawicki returned to Racer.

"It was clearly planned," said Leonard Meuse, a baker at the cafe. "You don't walk in with two loaded pistols."

Meuse survived bullets to his face and chest.

"Less than a week ago, I had surgery again," he said. "Less than a month from now, I'm going back for something else."

One year later, Meuse suffers physically, but says mentally he's unstoppable.

"If you stop, it's kind of the same as giving up," he said.

Meuse, who still bakes bread, oatmeal cookies, and blueberry pies at the cafe, is haunted by words he heard inside his aid car.

"The thing that struck me the hardest was when they looked at the front one and said, 'Let's go, no rush on everyone else,'" Meuse said.

That's how he learned, his regulars, his friends, didn't survive. It's an image he's not willing to wipe out.

"It may not be the happiest day of your life," he said, "but life is all of those ups and downs, the goods and the bads. We're not human without both of them."

The cafe will be closed Thursday and the staff plans to hang out together before having an evening concert and a walk.