The suspect in a fatal shooting rampage at a Jewish charity deeply disappointed his parents because he had dropped out of dentistry school, and had been getting psychiatric help for 10 years, a family friend and his lawyer said.
Naveed Haq, 30, was a bright student who moved to the East Coast to study dentistry after graduating from high school in 1994, said Muhammad Ullah, a close friend of the suspect’s family.
But he dropped out after just a few years, frustrating his accomplished parents and straining their relationship.
“They had expressed to me their concern and unhappiness: 'He can’t decide what he wants to do with his life,”’ said Ullah, a senior member of the Islamic Center of the Tri-Cities. “He had grown distant from his family since he didn’t finish school.”
Haq was ordered held on $50 million bail Saturday pending formal charges of murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors have until Wednesday to file formal charges.
He is accused of opening fire with two semiautomatic pistols at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on Friday, killing Pamela Waechter, 58, and wounding five other women, one of whom is five months pregnant.
Haq, a U.S.-born Muslim, told authorities he was angered by the war in Iraq and U.S. military cooperation with Israel. 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.”
Family well-known in community
Authorities said they believed Haq was acting on his own, and there was no evidence of a broad conspiracy.
Haq’s family was well-known in the local Muslim community, where his father, Mian, an engineer, was a founding member of the Islamic Center in this south-central Washington town.
Haq, whose parents had moved to the United States from Pakistan in the 1970s, excelled in writing, winning an essay contest as a teenager, Ullah said. He eventually completed an engineering degree at Washington State University.
Then in March, Haq was arrested at a Benton County stopping mall. Newspaper reports said that he climbed onto a raised coin fountain and exposed himself to young women.
Larry Stephenson, a Kennewick lawyer who is representing Haq on the lewd conduct charge, told The Seattle Times that Haq has been getting psychiatric help for about 10 years.
“He’s had real difficulty,” he said, adding that he thought Haq was single and unemployed.
Ullah told The Times that the parents were “desperately trying to help their son,” who was on medication.
Haq had asked Ullah to bail him out of jail after being arrested at the shopping mall.
“He was too embarrassed to call his parents. He was in enough trouble with them already,” Ullah said. “Because we were the closest friends to the family, he probably sensed he could trust me.”
Ullah ended up calling Haq’s parents, who picked up their son and drove him home. Ullah did not see Haq again until he attended Friday prayers at the mosque two weeks ago, largely keeping to himself.
“I shook hands, and he walked away,” Ullah said. “He didn’t seem to be the one I know of, but I didn’t really pay much attention because I was busy with other things.”
Haq’s parents are devastated and struggling to understand how their son strayed from the teachings of Islam, Ullah said.
No one answered the door at the Haq residence north of Pasco, where Haq’s parents moved in the past few years after raising their two sons in nearby Richland.
“We feel bad for his parents — good parents, good people,” Ullah said. “Today, this is a totally sad day for our community.”