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 police chief said Saturday.
Once inside, police say, Naveed Afzal Haq opened fire with two semiautomatic pistols. One woman, Pam Waechter, 58, of Seattle was killed at the scene. Five more women were wounded.
Haq, 30, was ordered held on $50 million bail Saturday pending formal charges of murder and attempted murder.
Haq, a Muslim, 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 news conference Saturday.
Tired of being ‘pushed around’
According to a statement of probable cause, 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 Haq’s father, described 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 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, and was cited and released, Kerlikowske said. Haq had a valid driver’s license and his actions did not raise any suspicion, the chief said.
Pregnant victim called a hero
One of the women wounded in Friday’s shooting — hit in the arm as she shielded her pregnant belly — helped bring the crisis to an end by crawling into her office, calling 911, and convincing her assailant to talk to dispatchers, Kerlikowske said.
“She’s a hero in my eyes,” he said at a news conference.
That woman, Dayna Klein, 37, was hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center along 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 immediately be confirmed.
The 13-year-old girl taken hostage at the beginning of the melee was not shot, police said.
Call to 911 released
When Haq got 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 a statement of probable cause.
At one point, he told the dispatcher he wanted police to call the media 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 Saturday, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson said. The other two were in satisfactory condition Friday. A nursing supervisor refused to say Saturday evening whether they had been released from the hospital.
Prosecutors have until Aug. 2 to formally charge Haq, spokesman Dan Donohoe said. They are not yet seeking capital charges, but that could change, he said.
Authorities searched Haq’s parents’ home and his apartment — both in the Tri-Cities area of southeastern Washington — and removed evidence, including computers and Haq’s car, Kerlikowske said.
Police and the FBI are labeling the shootings a hate crime.
Haq entered the King County courtroom on Saturday wearing handcuffs, chains and leg shackles, and a white jail jumpsuit that labeled him.”
An ‘ultra security inmate’
Before entering, Haq requested through a public defender that he be allowed to not personally attend the hearing, or for him to not be photographed or videotaped. District Judge Barbara L. Linde denied both requests.
Haq briefly glanced at rows of news media in the gallery on his way into the courtroom but otherwise showed no outward emotion.
Waechter, an assistant director at the federation, was described by colleagues as a tireless worker for the Jewish community.
“She was a person everybody loved, everybody enjoyed being with,” said Rabbi Jim Mirel of Temple B’nai Torah, where Waechter was a past president.
Waechter is survived by two adult children, Nicole and Mark, Mirel said.