This Weekly Photo Challenge was a bit more difficult than I had initially thought. What makes a photo relate when it was taken? It must be some sort of current event or headline. Unfortunately, Seattle has had a string of awful current events this week. This photo is of the parking spot where Gloria Leonidas was murdered two days ago. I walk by this spot four times a day to and from work and have watched the bouquets multiply. Below is an article I read today that identified the victim and the people (one of them a homeless vet) that were there at the end of her life. I have seen the vet around the neighborhood, I hope to see him again and be able to thank him.
Police credit homeless felon for helping at tragic shooting
SEATTLE — When Seattle police officers met Jason Yori years ago, circumstances weren’t ideal.
From the corner of Seventh and Pine where he regularly stands with a sign, the now-sober Yori shares stories of the drugs, alcohol and homelessness that made officers know his name. There were times they almost locked horns, he admits.
That’s why some officers who responded Wednesday morning to the shooting at Eighth Avenue and Seneca Street said Yori’s actions were so moving.
He had been in Freeway Park and was around the corner from the Town Hall parking lot when he heard a gunshot.
Gloria Leonidas, a married mother of two, had dropped off a friend and was planning to rejoin him after paying to park when Ian Stawicki – a man on a murderous spree – approached and began beating her.
Leonidas fought for her life, and Stawicki’s .45-caliber handgun jammed. At one point, police say, she knocked it to the ground. While another bystander was talking to a 911 dispatcher, the fatal shot rang out.
“I ran up to her right away and there was just a massive pool of blood there,” said Yori, 58, who helped along with other bystanders. “I didn’t know anything about her, so I spoke to her as a human being who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The Navy veteran said he gave her last rites.
“I felt really special to be able to do that – for us to be there when nobody else was there with her,” said Yori, 58.
JoAnn Stremler, who was on her way to the freeway from Virginia Mason, said she made eye contact with the suspect, who gave her the finger. Stremier said she left her car running and attended to Leonidas, as did another woman and her husband.
“Her eyes were fixed and dilated,” Yori said, “and when your eyes are fixed and dilated there’s no sense in going further.”
But bystanders and medics did.
As Yori held Leonidas, a woman in scrubs gave CPR, he said. Stremler said she and that woman both tried to resuscitate the Bellevue mom. Medics rushed her to Harborview Medical Center, but police said it was clear to the first-arriving officers that she wouldn’t survive.
Detectives also recognized early similarities – the handgun caliber and parts of the shooter’s description – between the Town Hall scene and Cafe Racer, where five others were shot.
A police supervisor who recognized Yori told him to leave, not knowing he was trying to help. Another officer who also recognized Yori next to the victim asked him to keep onlookers away from the crime scene, which he did. He also stayed to give officers a statement.
“Once the gun went off, it echoed for what seemed like minutes,” Stremler said.
Yori, who grew up a self-described military brat in Europe, said he came here years after his wife died in 1986 and was drawn by the movie “Sleepless in Seattle.”
But he’s often slept on the streets or in Dumpsters for cover. His history includes three confirmed felonies, all drug cases, and a criminal trespass conviction.
Once, years ago, before Yori became sober, he was giving CPR to another man. A friend watching told him to leave because the cops were coming and things could end badly.
“I said, ‘No, man. You don’t do that to somebody.’”
Yori’s no longer on Department of Corrections supervision, and said he’s working to set up a tent city for homeless veterans. Still, he wasn’t sure how some police would respond to him at the Eighth and Seneca shooting scene.
Officers with the Department of Corrections’ Northwest Community Response Unit, which handled Yori’s case in rougher times, said his actions were commendable. Yori gives them credit, too, for helping him stay sober and conviction-free for years.
After giving Leonidas last rites, Yori went to his church, Seattle First Presbyterian on Eighth Avenue, and prayed for her. Later that night, he went to sleep as he usually does in the church’s doorway.
Told Thursday she had two young children, Yori’s striking blue eyes welled with tears.
“I got to thinking, what would it be like to come home expecting your wife to be there, expecting your mom to be there and all of a sudden, she’d been shot.
“That reaction, you feel so helpless. Absolutely helpless.”