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Archive for Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bail for alleged gunman at Jewish center set at $50M

July 30, 2006

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— 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.

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.

A crime scene investigator rearranges flowers on Saturday in front of the Jewish Federation Building in Seattle so that investigators can close the gate at right after examining the crime scene. Officials stepped up security at both synagogues and mosques Saturday as authorities investigated a shooting at the building that killed an employee and wounded five others, including a pregnant woman.

A crime scene investigator rearranges flowers on Saturday in front of the Jewish Federation Building in Seattle so that investigators can close the gate at right after examining the crime scene. Officials stepped up security at both synagogues and mosques Saturday as authorities investigated a shooting at the building that killed an employee and wounded five others, including a pregnant woman.

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 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.

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.

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.

When Haq got on the phone with 911 operators, he identified himself and said, "This is a hostage situation and I want these Jews to get out," according to a statement of probable cause.

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