Aspiring actress, urban planner among those killed in Seattle shooting
SEATTLE (MCT) — An aspiring local actress and an urban planner and saxophone player were two of the four people killed when gunman Ian Stawicki opened fire Wednesday morning in Cafe Racer.
Local alternative musicians Drew Keriakedes and Joe “Vito” Albanese also were killed. Leonard Meuse survived. Stawicki later killed Gloria Koch Leonidas, a Bellevue mother of two, in a downtown Seattle carjacking.
Between scenes while filming the independent sitcom “35th Street Mission,” Kimberly Layfield and Rex Davison used to sit and talk about making it big.
“Just sitting around, dreamin’, you know?” Davison said.
Layfield, 38, was tall, blonde and beautiful, her friends said, but with a girl-next-door charm. She left behind Albany, Ga., where she grew up, to pursue an acting career. After college in Vermont, she moved to Seattle about 10 years ago.
“We all went, ‘Seattle? Really? How are you going to live out there? You thrive on sun and being outside and your suntan,’” said Mischelle Townsend, her friend of many years.
But Layfield loved being in Seattle, where she worked as a dental assistant. Townsend described her as “fun-loving, vivacious, very vibrant.” She had an artsy vibe, according to her family, and Davison said he loved her quirky, sometimes dark sense of humor.
“She would do all these facial expressions, and she did all these voices. She just wasn’t afraid to act dirty and dorky,” he said. “She was just fun to be around and everyone loved her.”
Besides the sitcom, filmed for no pay in a Seattle basement, Layfield acted in several independent films, according to an online biography.
Director D.A. Sebasstian said Layfield was talented, always prepared, and “a good team player” on the set of a movie he directed, “Hot Rod Girls Save the World,” which was released in 2008.
“She had that sort of Southern belle thing going on, you know? Her overall personality was just real nice and pleasant,” he said.
When she wasn’t working, Layfield loved live music and coffee shops and was a regular at Cafe Racer, which she could walk to from her home.
Patrons and employees of the cafe said she always looked on the bright side of life, and was a big fan of the musicians who played there. She would come at night, and often in the morning, too, to work on a crossword puzzle and chat with friends.
The cafe’s general manager, Ben Dean, said she had been talking the morning of the shooting to two members of the band God’s Favorite Beefcake who also were killed in the shooting.
“She enjoyed her friends at that little cafe,” said her aunt, Sheilah Holland. “They were a very artsy group, and she just really enjoyed going there.”
Layfield had been home in Georgia for three weeks before flying back to Seattle on Monday. While in Georgia, she spent Sunday with her family at her grandmother’s 103rd birthday party, her aunt said.
Layfield’s aunt said she saw the shooting on the news and, knowing it was in Layfield’s neighborhood, “called everybody in Seattle,” finally confirming Layfield’s involvement through the mayor’s office and Harborview Medical Center.
The news spread across the small Georgia community Thursday. Tom Knighton, the publisher of the Albany newspaper and a classmate of Layfield’s, heard the news at work and broke down.
“Something like this you just never imagine. It’s the kind of thing that always happens to other people,” he said.
Donald Largen, a 57-year-old urban planner who played the saxophone, “was a very loving, kindhearted man,” said his mother, Betty Parker.
Parker said she moved to Seattle from Racine, Wis., when she was 13, and later raised a family of three boys here, with Donald being the oldest.
“Seattle was a nice little town back then. I don’t even recognize it anymore,” Parker said. “You see all these things on TV, and you hear about people who lose a family member, but you never think it’s going to be you. It’s unbelievable. It’s the old saying: man’s inhumanity to man.”
After having lunch with a friend Wednesday, Parker, 79, of Lynnwood, said she returned home to find a neighbor informing her of a family emergency. She went to Harborview Medical Center, where her son had been taken.
“He was brain-dead,” Parker said. “All I could do was look at him.”
Parker said her son was a graduate of Shorecrest High School and the University of Washington, and was self-employed as an urban planner.
Dean Largen, of Fairbanks, Alaska, a younger brother, said Donald lived less than a block from Cafe Racer and went there often. He lived with his partner of more than 20 years, Glenna Wilson.
“Every time I came down from Fairbanks for a visit, I would walk over from his place to the Racer. I sat there many times with him.”
Kurt Geissel, the cafe’s owner, said Largen was part of the community of people who supported his business. He said Largen had gone through some rough times during the recession, which made it harder for urban planners to find jobs. But he was always willing to assist the cafe.
“Don, he always had my back,” Geissel said. “He was there to help in any way possible. We helped each other out.e was just a straight-up guy.”
Largen’s organs were donated, Parker said.