Don Largen made his living as a land use and urban planning consultant, but to many around the neighborhood, he was the quiet guy in glasses and a black knit cap who'd always smile and nod when you saw him. If he knew you, you were his friend. "If you asked Don how he was doing, he'd actually tell you," one neighbor said. "On summer nights you could hear him playing saxophone in his back yard."
Another said: "He was the nicest guy ever."
Don was a regular at Cafe Racer. He'd often pop in just for a coffee in the morning, and usually didn't stay for too long. Most of the times I saw him in there, he didn't even take a seat. Yesterday he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. (He's the closest patron to the camera sitting at the Cafe Racer bar in the surveillance video screen-captures plastered across the front page of the Seattle Times.)
The morning after the day of the shootings it's calm on NE 59th Street, where Don lived with his wife, Glenna, their house little more than a football field’s length from the front windows of the café. If not for the television news vans and the dogs barking at them through the windows of houses, you'd not know anything was amiss today—that is, until you reached the end of the block and the storefront of the cafe, where a huge memorial of flowers and notes and candles lies at the doorstep. On the paper covering the window from the inside, someone has written, "God Bless Drew, Joe, Kim, Len, and Don." Elsewhere: "Please be kind to your neighbors."
It's still unclear, but it's highly likely that Don knew his killer, even if he didn't know it was coming. All the regulars and employees knew each other on a first-name basis. "We all knew [the shooter]. We've all kicked him out," one bartender from the cafe told me last night. "He had anger issues..."
This morning, I take my nephew Eamon for a walk around the block (my brother and sister-in-law, and their kids, live three doors down the street from Don's house), and a neighbor from further down the street recognizes my nephew. I introduce myself, and she asks, "I was walking by Don and Glenna's house, and I wanted to ask, but I didn't see them home, if Don was at the cafe yesterday."
"He was," I say. "He didn't make it." And with that, she breaks into tears. Don is survived by his wife, Glenna. They have no children.