The father of Ian Stawicki, the gunman who killed five people in Seattle before committing suicide, said Wednesday his 41-year-old son had begun to "drift" mentally, but he couldn't force him to seek mental help and he never expected him to turn violent.
"Everybody that's told me I did everything I could ... it [that comment] goes through me," a devastated Walter Stawicki said in an interview. "That's an easy lie, it's a good excuse, [but doing] nothing is never enough."
He said his eldest son had never been diagnosed with mental illness, but was a manic-depressive who had difficulties in grade school, didn't make it through boot camp in the Army and recently had begun to drift.
"Just like a street person drifts — 'keep out of radar.' We heard things like, 'The Army is out to get my memory'."
Walter said he couldn't get Ian committed and could'’t force his son to seek help. So he and his wife started attending a counseling support network called Senior Parents of Adult Children with Mental Illness to find out what could be done.
A month after Walter had begun attending the support network, Ian walked into Seattle’s Café Racer on May 30 and, after being refused service, opened fire with two .45 caliber handguns, killing four people. He then fled and killed a woman for her car in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood and drove to West Seattle, where he killed himself as police were approaching him.
"He was Mr. Do-It-Right," Stawicki said of his son. "And then somewhere that day this guy isn't that guy — he's the other guy — that’s what we never expected to happen.
"You can see the loving side, rational side, the son, the gardener, the gentleman," Stawicki said of his son. "And you can't believe that this is going to come out."
Stawicki said he wishes now that he had lied to forcibly get his son mental help.
"I'm a law-abiding citizen," Stawicki said. "It never occurred to me, to do what people have to do — lie — [to] tell someone that he drew a knife on me, hit me or threatened my life."If others in his situation lie to get mental help for their loved ones, Walter said, "you’ll regret that less than standing where I’m standing today."