SEATTLE — The suspect in last week’s deadly shooting at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle is being described by friends and by law enforcement officials as a disturbed young man who acted alone.
According to police reports, Naveed Haq, a 30-year-old American citizen of Pakistani origin, burst into the federation building, identified himself as an American Muslim upset about what was going on in Israel and began spraying bullets. But friends say that he had fallen away from his faith and converted to Christianity last year.
“I don’t think he considered himself anything, lately,” said Wick Renner, Haq’s good friend and roommate in Everett, a small city 20 miles north of Seattle. Haq, Renner added, had been increasingly depressed and frustrated by his inability to find steady work and a girlfriend. He also was facing a charge of lewd conduct in connection to an incident at a shopping mall in March.
The Seattle Police Department is investigating the shooting as a homicide, while the FBI is pursuing the case as a hate crime.
The FBI has not opened an official terrorism investigation. “But we’re asking all the same questions we would in a terrorism case: the circumstances of the crime, whether there were ties to larger organizations,” FBI agent Fred Gutt said. “First and foremost, we believe this was an individual act, for whatever purpose, of homicide and attempted homicide. But at the end of the day, it’s the U.S. Attorney General’s Office that decides which charges to file.”
Haq left his Everett apartment building roughly two weeks before the attacks. During that time, he legally purchased two semiautomatic handguns. He picked up the guns in eastern Washington’s Tri-Cities area the day before the shooting.
The shooting began at about 4 p.m. on the afternoon of Friday, July 28, when a man suspected to be Haq took a teenage girl hostage, forced his way through the first-floor security door and walked upstairs to the federation reception desk, where he began his rampage.
Minutes later, one woman was dead — Pam Waechter, director of annual giving — and five others were wounded, including a 37-year-old pregnant woman who helped to end Haq’s rampage.
“In my eyes,” Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said, “she is a hero.”
According to Kerlikowske, Dayna Klein, who is more than five months pregnant, covered her stomach when Haq turned his gun on her. He fired and the bullet hit her forearm, stopping before it entered her stomach. Haq instructed the 19 people inside the building not to call the police, but the wounded Klein made her way to a telephone and dialed 911.
Victims were jumping out of second-story windows, running down halls and hiding in broom closets. Several federation employees ran next door to Starbucks, where they found a group of police officers taking a coffee break.
“There’s been a shooting!” somebody shouted.
Back in the federation building, while hunting down more victims, Haq found the wounded Klein on the phone. She persuaded him to talk to 911 operators.
“This is a hostage situation, and I want these Jews to get out,” Haq said. “I’m not upset at people, I’m upset at your foreign policy. These are Jews, and I’m tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East.”
Haq suddenly switched gears.
“I’ll give myself up,” he said before putting down his guns and surrendering to officers without a fight.
According to the police chief, Haq said that he was angry about America’s invasion of Iraq, its support of Israel and “our people getting pushed around.”
Haq was raised a Muslim in the Tri-Cities area. His father, Mian Haq, lives in the Tri-Cities area, where the younger Haq grew up and worked as an engineer at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The father also helped start a mosque, but, according to Renner, Naveed Haq had fallen away from Islam and would defiantly tell his parents over the phone that he was not fasting during Ramadan.
Haq and his family were deeply embarrassed by the March incident at the shopping mall, Renner said. The lewd-conduct charge stemmed from a local woman who claimed that Haq had shown her his penis. According to the police report, Haq denied the allegation, gave security guards the finger and told the guards he was under the influence of methamphetamines. Haq’s trial for lewd conduct was scheduled to begin the Thursday before the shooting, but the trial had been postponed.
After the shooting, Haq’s family released a statement through lawyers: “We are shocked and devastated by this tragic event…. We could not have imagined for a moment that our son would do this senseless act. This is utterly contrary to our beliefs and Islamic values.”
Reporters crowded Haq’s July 29 bail hearing. King County prosecutors said they were not yet seeking a capital case, but that “circumstances could change.” When Judge Barbara Linde set the bail at $50 million, nearby bail bondsmen whistled through their teeth.
Renner said he learned about the shootings from the FBI. “I came home from work, and the FBI was there asking about Naveed,” he said. “I couldn’t think of anything he could possibly have done to warrant the FBI. I thought it was maybe vandalism or something.”
Renner said that despite his sympathy for the victims, he also feels bad for his friend.
“I feel terrible for the people that got killed,” Renner said. “It’s a heinous crime. But it’s a tragedy for Naveed, too. He was just so frustrated; he felt rejected. Goddamn. He threw it all away.”