- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 30, 2006

SEATTLE (AP) — The man suspected in a fatal shooting rampage hid behind a potted plant in a Jewish charity’s foyer and forced his way through a security door by holding a gun to a 13-year-old girl’s head, the city police chief said yesterday.

Once inside, police said, Naveed Afzal Haq, a Muslim, opened fire with two semiautomatic pistols. One woman, Pam Waechter, 58, of Seattle was killed at the scene. Five more women were wounded.

Mr. Haq, 30, was ordered held on $50 million bail yesterday, pending formal charges of murder and attempted murder.

Mr. Haq told authorities he was angered by the war in Iraq and U.S. military cooperation with Israel.

“He pointedly blamed the Jewish people for all of these problems,” Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said at a press conference.

According to a statement of probable cause, Mr. Haq told a 911 dispatcher: “These are Jews, and I’m tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East.”

Muhammad Ullah, a close family friend and a senior member of a mosque founded in part by Mr. Haq’s father, described Mr. Haq as a quiet loner with few friends.

In a statement, the Islamic Center of the Tri-Cities offered condolences to the shooting victims and said, “We disassociate this act from our Islamic teachings and beliefs.”

Seattle police said Mr. Haq picked up the two handguns and spare ammunition just days earlier and appeared to have targeted the federation after a cursory Internet search for Jewish organizations.

He also was stopped shortly before the shootings in Seattle for a minor traffic infraction, was cited and was released, Chief Kerlikowske said. Mr. Haq had a valid driver’s license, and his actions did not raise any suspicion, the chief said.

One of the women wounded in the shooting Friday — she was hit in the arm as she shielded her pregnant belly — helped to end the crisis by crawling into her office, calling 911 and convincing her assailant to talk to dispatchers, Chief Kerlikowske said.

“She’s a hero in my eyes,” he said at the press conference. Dayna Klein, 37, was hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center with the four others wounded.

Jewish Federation officials identified the other wounded women as Cheryl Stumbo, 43; Layla Bush, 23; and Carol Goldman, 35, all of Seattle; and Christina Rexroad, whose age and hometown could not yet be confirmed.

The 13-year-old girl taken hostage at the beginning of the melee was not shot, police said.

When Mr. Haq talked on the phone with 911 operators, he identified himself by name and said, “This is a hostage situation, and I wanted these Jews to get out,” according to the statement of probable cause.

At one point, he told the dispatcher he wanted police to call reporters and that he had a gun pointed at a woman’s head. He said he was acting alone and had not been drinking, court documents said.

The three most seriously wounded women, who had been shot in the abdomen, were upgraded from critical to serious condition yesterday, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson said. The other two were in satisfactory condition Friday.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide