Naveed Afzal Haq
Murder and hate crime conviction
Haq was convicted on December 15, 2009 of aggravated murder, malicious harassment—Washington's hate-crime statute—five counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of unlawful imprisonment, and this event was also characterized as a hate crime. The jury did not accept the defense argument that Haq was criminally insane when the shootings occurred July 28, 2006.
Background and early years
Naveed Haq is of Pakistani descent. His father, Mian Haq, is a prominent Muslim American leader in the Tri-Cities area, who helped found the local Islamic Center, and continues to work at the Hanford nuclear facility. Naveed Haq graduated from Richland High School in 1994, where one of his classmates described him as a "pretty calm, collected, happy guy." Another classmate told The Seattle Times that Haq "was never up front about his faith or religion." Haq is reported to have attended dentistry school at University of Pennsylvania but dropped out before graduating. He then completed a degree in electrical engineering at Washington State University (WSU), but was allegedly incapable of holding down a job.
By all accounts, Haq had few close friends. A Seattle Times article quoted "the only friend Haq listed on the social-networking site, Friendster.com", a man from a Hindu background, as saying, "I'm beginning to think I was his only friend in the Tri-Cities. I don't recall him hanging out with anybody else." Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger described Haq's former WSU classmate, as having been "frustrated with [Haq's] aimlessness." Prior to the shooting spree, Haq had spent "an idle summer in a studio apartment flirting with women on the internet."
Haq was married briefly, in an arranged marriage in 2001 in Pakistan, but the marriage was apparently unconsummated, and he returned to America without his bride.
His family released a statement saying, "This is utterly contrary to our beliefs and Islamic values."
Criminal history and mental health
Prior to the shooting incident, Haq had a series of minor brushes with the law, especially traffic violations. In March 2006, he was arrested for public exposure at the Columbia Center Mall in Kennewick, Washington, after allegedly standing on a fountain near a Macy's store, and harassing women at the nearby store's makeup counter. At one point, he exposed his penis to young women passing by the fountain. One of Haq's friends told The Seattle Times that the suspect was taking medication for bipolar disorder and that he was unhappy with his life and sometimes made anti-Semitic remarks offhandedly. According to another Times article, Haq was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1996, was on powerful psychiatric medications, including lithium and Depakote, and that for years, Haq's parents "had witnessed Haq's struggle with mental illness."
Conversion to Christianity
Haq studied the Bible at Word of the Faith Church in Kennewick and was baptized in December 2005, but stopped attending his Bible study group after a few months. The Bible study group leader, Albert Montelongo, said that Haq talked about having bipolar disorder and that he seemed depressed by the conflict with his family over his religious conversion. According to Montelongo, Haq converted because he perceived too much anger in Islam and wanted to find a new beginning in Christianity. Montelongo added that he thought that Haq was succeeding in dealing with "his own anger" the last time he saw him, and that Haq had told them that he was moving to Seattle in search of employment.
In search for employment, Haq moved back and forth between Tri-Cities and Seattle. At one point, according to a friend, he was working as a security guard at a Seattle area department store. The friend lost touch with Haq six weeks before the Jewish Federation shooting ago when Haq e-mailed him saying he had started work at a Home Depot store in Everett. His friends thought it was odd Haq, who had a degree in engineering, took unskilled jobs. They say Haq had trouble keeping steady employment. Four weeks later, Naveed Haq attended his father's Islamic Center of Tri-Cities and met senior member Muhammad Kaleem Ullah (who had previously bailed him out of jail).
Jewish Federation building shooting
On July 28, 2006, Haq is alleged to have gained access to the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building by holding a 14-year-old girl hostage with a gun to her back and ordering her to dial the intercom and request to be buzzed into the building. After entering, he then began shooting. Pamela Waechter was killed. Layla Bush, Christina Rexroad and Cheryl Stumbo were critically wounded. Dayna Klein and Carol Goldman were wounded.
At the time of the shooting, it was reported by witnesses that Haq stated, "I am a Muslim American, angry at Israel." During the incident, Haq also talked to 911 operators, saying, "These are Jews and I'm tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East." He also demanded that the United States withdraw its military forces from Iraq. He shot six women, killing one. Eventually, however, he calmed down and told the operator he would surrender. He then walked out of the building with his hands on his head and was arrested by the police outside.
Haq was held on $50 million bail pending full charges the following afternoon (July 29, 2006). Haq was charged with nine felonies, including aggravated first-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder, kidnapping, burglary and malicious harassment, a hate-crime law. Haq is accused of breaking into federation offices and then engaging in a shooting spree, at which time he allegedly made anti-Semitic statements. Haq's court-appointed attorney has confirmed that his client suffered from bipolar disorder. It was unclear whether he would attempt an insanity defense until, on August 10, 2006, Haq requested to enter a plea of guilty to all charges against him, surprising his lawyer as well as the community at large. King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that many mentally ill individuals "can fully be held accountable in the criminal justice system." The judge in the case delayed entering a plea until a competency hearing could be completed, and Haq later dropped his request.
Two days after the shootings, Haq's parents released a statement "expressing their shock and sorrow over the shootings. '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.'"
On December 20, 2006, it was announced that Haq would not face the death penalty if convicted but rather would spend life in prison without parole.
His trial began in the King County Courthouse (Seattle) on April 14, 2008 and was expected to last a minimum of 6–8 weeks. It was covered on Court TV. On June 4, 2008, the jury found him not guilty on one count of attempted murder (for victim Carol Goldman); on the remaining counts, the jury declared itself to be hung. The judge declared a mistrial. His second trial commenced in late 2009, and he was found guilty on all counts, including aggravated first-degree murder, on December 15, 2009. He was sentenced to life without parole plus 120 years.
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