News Blog for Seattle's University District Neighborhood


Entries from May 2012

Neighborhood continues to mourn Cafe Racer shooting victims

May 31st, 2012 by master

Tonight, another large crowd of mourners gathered outside Cafe Racer to mourn the victims of Wednesday’s shooting. As the sunlight began to fade a procession of mourners, led by Lucia Neare’s Theatrical Wonders, slowly made its way through the northwest section of the U District. The procession steadily grew as neighbors joined in until the large group of hundreds stopped on Roosevelt Avenue NE just outside the doors of the cafe.

A procession of mourners grows as neighbors join in along the route.

For the second night, a crowd gathers outside Cafe Racer to mourn the victims of Wednesday's shooting.

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4th person dies in cafe shooting, memorial grows outside shooting scene

May 31st, 2012 by master

Police say it took 63 seconds for Ian L. Stawicki to shoot five people in Cafe Racer and escape. Only one survived, Leonard Meuse, a chef at the cafe, who remains in serious condition. Two members of the band “God’s Favorite Beefcake” died in gunfire: Joe “Vito” Albanese and his best friend Drew Keriakedes, who had just played at last weekend’s Folklife Festival. The names of the other man and woman who succumbed to their injuries have not been released.

(Photo courtesy of Ellen Eades)

A large memorial pours out onto the sidewalk in front of Cafe Racer on Roosevelt. One note reads, “Please be kind to your neighborhood.” Friends stopped by to pay their respects and share memories.

“(They were) just the most creative, artistic people I’ve ever met, hands down,” said friend Jacob Landry in an interview with KIRO TV. “Life was kind of hard on both of them for a long time. They turned it around with music and shared good things with other people.”

(Mourners play New Orleans style jazz outside Cafe Racer.)

Police say gunman Ian L. Stawicki shot and killed himself in West Seattle. A fifth victim, a Bellevue mom, was shot and killed in First Hill when Stawicki carjacked her SUV, police say.

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5 shot at cafe, police lock down neighborhood, suspect shoots himself in West Seattle

May 30th, 2012 by master

Updated: A gunman opened fire inside Cafe Racer Espresso along Roosevelt Ave. in the U District late this morning, killing three and wounding two others. As police responded, the suspect escaped, killing a woman in a carjacking on First Hill about a half hour later. Investigators tracked him to West Seattle, where he shot himself as police moved in, according to SPD.

“Based on evidence recovered during today’s investigations, SPD believes a lone suspect is responsible the murders in Roosevelt and First Hill,” explains Seattle PD in a blog post. “Still, neighbors should expect to see a heightened police presence as detectives work to confirm links between the two tragic incidents.”

The University District shootings sparked a massive police response, locking down Roosevelt High School among Seattle Police’s warnings for everyone to either stay away from the area or remain inside their homes and businesses, doors. Eckstein Middle and Green Lake Elementary also locked their doors. Neighbors told Maple Leaf Life that police were going door-to-door blocks away from the shooting scene, searching for the suspect.

(Cafe Racer surveillance images provided by Seattle Police)

Police identified the gunman as Ian Lee Stawicki, 40, of Seattle, seen above in the beard and light blue jacket in surveillance video provided by SPD. His brother told the Seattle Times that he was mentally ill. “It’s no surprise to me this happened. We could see this coming. Nothing good is going to come with that much anger inside of you,” Andrew Stawicki said.

Harborview Medical Center told KING 5 that the two injured in the shooting have life-threatening injuries. “It is not going to be an easy road for them, it’s minute by minute, hour by hour, and that’s where we are at right now,” said hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg.

During the search for the gunman, the UW said it alerted students to the suspect description, but did not issue a campus lockdown.

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Cafe Racer neighbors, friends mourn shooting victims

May 30th, 2012 by master

An impromptu memorial is under way on NE 59th Street tonight as Cafe Racer neighbors, patrons and friends gather just a few houses away from the scene of today’s deadly shooting on Roosevelt Way NE. Details of the shootings and manhunt are below.

Neighbors and friends of Cafe Racer gather just a few houses away

Cafe Racer on Roosevelt Way NE at NE 59th Street

Mourners play New Orleans style jazz outside Cafe Racer.

Mourners leave flowers, candles and cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer to honor those killed at the Cafe Racer

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Sound Transit shows latest proposed design for Brooklyn station

May 23rd, 2012 by master

UW News Lab
Sound Transit unveiled the latest prospective design plans for Brooklyn station at an open house at the Neptune Theatre last night, May 22. Initial concepts for station art and a discussion of potential station names took center stage.
According to the Sound Transit website, Brooklyn station is part of the North Link Project, which will be a 4.3-mile tunnel spanning from University Station near Husky Stadium to a Northgate station near the Northgate Transit Center. Brooklyn station will be located along Brooklyn Avenue Northeast between the University Manor apartments on Northeast 43rd Street and the Neptune Theatre on Northeast 45th Street.
Bruce Gray, a media relations rep for Sound Transit, said the plan is to have the link open by 2021.
“Everything is really coming together,” he said. “It will be jewel of the U-District.”

Sound Transit Project Manger Tracy Reed welcoming everyone to the open house

Open house attendees had the opportunity to vote on prospective names for the station. The three contenders were U-District Station, Brooklyn Station and Northeast 5th Street. A write-in option was also available.
Meeting attendee Jorgen Bader said he encourages people to choose U-District Station or write in University District Station.
“Nothing about the station relates to the University of Washington,” he said. “It needs to tie into the university and introduce people to the university.”
Tracy Reed, a project manager at Sound Transit, said a permanent name will be chosen in June.
“It will reflect the nature of the environment and be brief and easy to read and remember,” she said, adding that the selection will not be similar to names of existing stations and buildings.
In addition to naming the station, the meeting was the first time the community was introduced to the local artists, Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo, who will provide the
station’s artwork. Last November, a Sound Transit art selection committee chose Han and Mihalyo, who own Lead Pencil Studio in Seattle.
“Our inspiration comes from the urban fabric of the city,” Mihalyo said. He added that they plan to have 3-D windows with videos running, still images and lighting.
“They will be ambient in nature,” he said. “We haven’t decided what, but they will relate to domestic and retail experiences.”
The open house presentation noted that the University Station will cater to visitors of Husky Stadium, the University of Washington Medical Center and the southern part of UW’s campus, while the Brooklyn Station will be more accessible for people traveling to the UW Tower, the “Ave,” north campus and buses that connect at Northeast 45th Street.

Attendees view displays and talk to Sound Transit employees during the station design open house.

Gray said the projected ridership at Brooklyn station for 2030 is approximately 12,000 daily boardings based on current transit ridership and projected travel times. Riders will be able to travel from Brooklyn station to Westlake Station in eight minutes and to Sea- Tac Airport in 41 minutes, Gray said.
The station will be approximately 80 feet below ground with elevators, escalators and stairs provided at entrances adjacent to the Neptune Theatre and near the Chase Bank on Northeast 43rd Street. Ticketing machines, covered bicycle storage, benches and four emergency staircases were also featured in the presentation. In addition, the station is designed to include street-level retail shops or office spaces at street level.
Gray said he expects the final design to be completed at the end of 2012, with demolition and construction work beginning shortly after. Construction of the station
will include closing Brooklyn Avenue Northeast and Northeast 43rd Street to traffic and pedestrians.
“The meat of the construction will be from 2014 to 2017,” Gray said. “The biggest impact folks will notice is that Brooklyn will be closed.”

Wilbert Santos, Sound Transit community relations’ specialist answers questions from attendees.

Construction simulation of the Brooklyn station tunneling and excavation process:

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New children's clothing store opens in University Village

May 21st, 2012 by master

UW News Lab

This past Friday, May 18, Peek opened its doors in University Village to a swarm of eager customers. The children’s clothing store, which originated in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2006, has additional locations in California, Arizona and Texas. But for its first Washington location, University Village in Seattle couldn’t have been a better choice.

“University Village is such a great location for us. It fits in perfectly with our brand,” said Christian Wais, general manager of all Peek locations.

General manager of Peek, Christian Wais, said, “We want to offer something complementary to what's already happening here. We're not trying to compete.”

That brand he’s referring to is defined by Peek’s three key values, which include nostalgia, wit and sophistication. As an upscale children’s brand, Peek delivers high-end clothing to even the youngest generations, thus filling the void in quality children’s-wear, according to Wais.

Annjette Del Valle, manager of Glassybaby in University Village, said she thinks there are a lot of people that want more options for children’s apparel and she’s hopeful that Peek will be able to provide that.

“We felt like a lot of kids didn’t get the same attention to detail and quality that were in adult clothes. We wanted to bring a level of premium sophistication to kids,” said Wais.

Peek delivers high-quality clothing to children through its use of soft fabrics and a sophisticated color palette.

And it seems as though they may be doing just that. With refined prints, soft fabrics and miniature versions of pieces you might see in an adult clothing store, Peek is definitely bringing new styles to the arena of children’s clothing. Peek gets a lot of its fabrics from Liberty London, which is one of the oldest printmakers in the world. Some of Peek’s more sophisticated pieces include paisley and floral prints from Liberty London. As for the miniature items, Peek offers neon-colored Vans in infant sizes and a khaki-colored dress with a coral floral print that you might hope to find at J. Crew in adult sizes.

“The whole idea was kind of peeking into your child’s future and peeking back into your own childhood,” Wais added. “When you see our mix and our product, you can see we’re doing something different.”

Micaela Wanzer, a current employee at Peek in University Village, added, “What I love about Peek is that it appeals to both children and adults. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard adults, both women and men alike, come in and say how they wished that we made clothing in their size.”

Wanzer first became familiar with the brand when she worked at Nordstrom last summer, which is a large distributor of Peek-brand clothing. “Peek is unlike any other kids-apparel company out there and is really unique in style and aesthetic,” said Wanzer. “It is playful, like most kids clothes are, but it has an edge of sophistication and, of course, is very high quality.”

Peek avoids just using the primary colors and instead pairs coral, mustard and lilac with neutral tones in order to achieve a more adult color palette. In addition, Peek avoids childish graphics. Wais joked, “You’ll never see a dinosaur on one of our shirts.” Peek clothing is generally in the $30-$60 range for young boys and girls as well as for baby clothing.

Not only is it Peek’s mission to fill the need for more options in children’s apparel, Wais insists it’s also to encourage children to interact with, and be curious about, the world they live in. Maybe that explains why Peek is stocked with children’s books, has a craft station and often uses pictures of scientists or artists on its T-shirts.

Craft stations are set up to ensure that children interact and have an experience while in Peek stores. “We want to be able to provide what we do, which is a great customer experience,” said Wais.

According to Wais, Peek may be opening three more locations this year, but no official announcement has been made.

To learn more about Peek, please visit its new location in University Village or website at

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U District Street Fair busy despite cool, wet weather

May 21st, 2012 by master

The 43rd annual University District Street Fair never fails to draw a good size crowd, even when the weather’s not cooperating. This year’s fair boasted some 500 booths for food, merchandise, information and entertainment. The fair is one of the cities premier events for people watching.

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Wing-it Productions’ play brings a new level of interactivity – through Kinect

May 7th, 2012 by master

UW News Lab

Lars Foster-Jorgensen and Trent Walkiewicz act in Wing-It Production’s new unscripted play “Gauntlet.” Photo credit Wing-It Productions.

What if you could be the “player” within a play?

Improv theater group Wing-It Productions did just that at their opening night for their new unscripted play, “Gauntlet” on Thursday, May 3.

In addition to the typical audience interaction needed in improv, a new level of virtual interaction was used for the actors. Microsoft engineers and Carnegie-Mellon graduate students collaborated with Wing-It to create an exclusive Kinect video game for the play.

In addition to the innovation’s “wow-factor,” the use of a video game in the play is vital to the story.

“Gauntlet” is about two friends who are winners at playing video games but are losers in life. Depending on audience suggestions, the plot revolves around a major life event. The video-game world almost parallels the real world, making the “audience member become lost in the show, much in the same way that video games engulf the player,” said director Andrew McMasters.

Each performance is a unique experience, just like starting a new file on a video game. The actors rotate the basic parts. “Female gamers will not be excluded,” said actors Elizabeth Westerman and Amalia Larson, who play the role of the video gamers.

Don Gillett came up with the show’s concept about six to seven years ago during the show “CUT,” which involved a green screen that the actors would interact with. Motion-capture technology has progressed enough since then, Gillett decided to create a show using Microsoft’s Kinect technology. “We were building the game while they were rehearsing it. It took about two months to make, but there was difficulty with that. Like we would have to change parts to go with what they were rehearsing,” said Gordon Jeffery, a Carnegie-Mellon graduate student.

Kinect — a motion-sensing input device by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 console and Windows PCs — is used by the actors playing the roles of the video game avatars. While these actors stand in front of the device and act out their characteristics, the video gamers use the Xbox controllers to manipulate the camera and gameplay. The need for coordination between actors is especially high with using this technology. For example, in Thursday night’s show, the video game avatars were named “Tentaculus the Octopusinator” and “Volatile Primate the Triathlete.” Tentaculus would wiggle his arms like tentacles and Volatile Primate was hunched over. These physical characteristics were reflected on the gameplay on the large screen. The accuracy of motion-capture immensely increased the humor. The video gamer who was Volatile Primate would move the character around and interact with the setting – such as killing villains or jousting. Even when the actors did not know what they were doing with the game controls, it helped with the comedy of the show and their quick wit saved any technical difficulties experienced. This made the experience uplifting and fun.

It is not only the use of technology that makes the unscripted play a success, but also the witty dialogue improvised by the actors. The ensemble made the show feel like it was actually scripted with smart conversations and character development, leading to new story directions without a bump.

You can find out more information about “Gauntlet” and order tickets at

It plays Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. from May 3 until May 19.

Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for students, seniors and military.

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