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Lone survivor: Cafe gunman intent on killing victims

SEATTLE -- The lone survivor of the shooting at Cafe Racer that left four people dead two weeks ago says the gunman was intent on not leaving any survivors.

Len Meuse says he believes Ian Stawicki shot them all once, then fired off additional shots to make sure they didn't survive. But Meuse miraculously survived as the bullets just barely missed his critical organs.

Meuse, a cook at the cafe, said he knew Stawicki could be erratic -- Stawicki had been banned from the cafe. But he said when Stawicki walked in, the day went from routine to horror in an instant.

"I just remember he came in and my boss had told me he's 86'd so I very politely told him that," Meuse said. "He asked, 'can I get a coffee to go then?', and I said, 'Yeah, no problem. In fact, I'll buy it for you, you've always been nice to me.' "

The moment Meuse turned his back to make the coffee, Stawicki fired the first shot, which hit Meuse's left armpit. The bullet pierced his lung, grazed his liver, grazed his kidneys and barely bypassed his heart and spinal column. Meuse collapsed and instantly knew it was Stawicki, and with a glance he knew it would get worse.

"I remember seeing someone next to me in the bar and there was fear in her eyes," Meuse said.

After that, Meuse heard the gunshots as Stawicki was shooting people one by one -- Drew Keriakedes, Joseph Vito Albanese, Kimberly Layfield and Don Largen. Stawicki later shot and killed a woman near Town Hall, then killed himself a few hours later as police closed in.

It was clear to Meuse that Stawicki wanted everyone dead.

"I think he just put everyone down and then he double tapped everyone," Meuse said.

Then came a final shot for Meuse -- this time to the head. That bullet shattered his jaw, broke several teeth and shredded his tongue, which had to be sewed back together.

Just two days out of the hospital, and two weeks after the shooting, the 46-year-old military veteran can't yet talk about the friends who died.

"I'm just not ready yet," Meuse said.

Meuse describes Stawicki as "hot and cold" -- one moment quiet, the next inserting himself in conversations across the room. Meuse says he was often loud and aggressive.

"You never knew what you were getting," Meuse said.

Like family of other victims, he thinks Stawicki would have killed even if he didn't have a gun.

"Guns don't kill people -- I guess they do, but they're just a tool," he said. "A twig can do just as much."

Meuse believes he'll never know why it happened and he believes it's not for him to know.

"I'm glad (Stawicki's) at peace," Meuse said.

Now he hopes his Caf Racer family can find peace, and for that he says he has no choice but to return to work.

"I have to," he said. "Because there is still community left and we need to heal."

Meuse has not returned to the cafe yet. Although he's able to walk, and doing well, he needs to build up his strength. He's having trouble swallowing because of the bullet that pierced his jaw.

He hopes the city will consider some kind of park memorial -- even wind chimes in a nearby park, a place where family and victims can go to heal.

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