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Thursday, August 3, 2006 - Page updated at 10:52 AM

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Haq allegedly shot woman, then chased her up stairs, killed her

Seattle Times staff reporters

When a gunman opened fire on women at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle last Friday, he announced the shootings were intended to make a statement.

Prosecutors who charged Naveed Afzal Haq on Wednesday say he did: Hate.

Haq, 30, was charged with nine felonies, including aggravated first-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder, kidnapping, burglary and malicious harassment, the state's hate-crime law.

"Make no mistake, this was a hate crime," King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng said Wednesday as he announced the charges during a news conference.

The charges provide chilling details of the shooting spree in which one woman was killed and five others were wounded. Prosecutors allege that Haq shot Pamela Waechter in the chest and then followed the wounded woman as she fled up some stairs. At the top, Haq allegedly reached over the railing and shot her again, killing her.

Maleng has 30 days from Haq's Aug. 10 arraignment to decide whether to pursue the death penalty. Aggravated first-degree murder is punishable by either death or life in prison without the possibility of release.

The charges detail a number of anti-Semitic statements Haq allegedly made to other victims and to police dispatchers.

"These are Jews," he told 911 dispatchers in a recorded conversation. "I want these Jews to get out.

"I'm tired of getting pushed around, and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East," Haq reportedly said.

Maleng said Haq had identified himself as an "American Muslim," although friends have said he is a convert to Christianity. His family is deeply involved in Islam in the Tri-Cities area.

Making a statement

The charges say the shooting began shortly after Haq forced his way into the federation offices by sticking a pistol in the back of a 14-year-old girl who was visiting her aunt. He ordered her to open the security door, according to the charges. Once inside, Haq allegedly said, "I'm only doing this for a statement."

According to the papers, Haq followed the girl upstairs to a reception area and, when they reached the desk of receptionist Layla Bush, Haq asked to see the manager. The 14-year-old girl continued walking and went into a nearby restroom, locking herself in a stall.

What ensued was mayhem. Witnesses say Haq "readied his gun" — he was carrying two, as well as a knife, prosecutors say — and shot Carol Goldman in the knee as she attempted to call 911. "Haq continued to shoot, hitting [Layla] Bush in the abdomen and left shoulder and [Cheryl] Stumbo in the abdomen," charging papers say.

Moving through the office, the papers say, he shot Christina Rexroad in the abdomen and wounded Waechter in the chest. She clutched at the wound and ran up some stairs. Haq chased her down and killed her, the charges allege.

Employee Dayna Klein, the charges say, heard the commotion but wasn't sure what was going on. She walked out of her office and met the gunman face-to-face. He shot her in the arm "that she had a moment earlier put up to protect her unborn child."

Klein, the complaint says, crumpled to the floor and crawled to her desk. Haq had allegedly commanded that "nobody better call 911," but Klein did it anyway.

According to the charges, she handed the phone to Haq, who told dispatchers he was holding a gun to her head and announced Klein was a hostage, then began to rant about the Jews, Israel and the U.S. role in the war in Iraq and the Middle East. Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske has said Klein was a hero for defying the gunman.

"Haq said that the Muslims are very upset at you [the U.S.] sending bombs to Israel and very upset that you [U.S.] stay in Iraq," the complaint states. "Haq reiterated that he just wanting (sic) to make a point and was tired of everyone not listening to our point of view."

He demanded to be connected to CNN or other media. When dispatchers said it couldn't be done, Haq agreed to surrender, charging papers say.

He walked outside, where he was arrested by Seattle police.

Attack on community

In announcing the charges against Haq, Maleng called the shooting "heinous" and "one of the most serious hate crimes we've ever had in our community."

"The attack on these women was an attack on the Jewish community, not only in Seattle, but throughout our nation and the world," he said.

Haq was also charged with first-degree kidnapping for allegedly holding a gun to the back of the 14-year-old girl and first-degree burglary for allegedly breaking and entering the building, which was armed with a security system.

When asked Wednesday about Haq's reported history of mental illness and how it could factor into a case of first-degree murder, Maleng said "there is compelling evidence of premeditation" in the crimes. "There are many people who cope with mental illness" but who can still be held accountable for crimes, he said.

Though he said there is no evidence the shooting itself was an act of terrorism, Maleng said it is inexorably linked to political events in the Middle East and to the war on terror worldwide.

"It is the seeds from which the war on terror springs," he said. "The world has gotten to be a smaller place. We feel, here at home, the tensions of military conflict on the other side of the globe."

Updates on the victims

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman at Harborview Medical Center announced that Rexroad, 29, has been transferred from the intensive-care unit to a semi-private room. Rexroad, Stumbo, 43, and Goldman, 35, were listed in satisfactory condition.

Bush, 23, remained in serious condition in the ICU. Klein, 37, was released from the hospital Tuesday.

Michael Rexroad of Lake Stevens, Christina Rexroad's father-in-law, believes the death penalty is justifiable in the case.

"It was premeditated. Let the punishment fit the crime," Rexroad said. "He knew exactly what he was doing. He barged in and just started shooting. Whether the women were Jews, gentiles, Christians, it really didn't matter."

Haq is being held in the King County Jail without bail, after his original bail of $50 million was revoked. He moved to Seattle from the Tri-Cities area in 2004 in hopes of pursuing an engineering career. Instead, he ended up getting fired from the only job he could land, as a telemarketer.

In March, Haq was accused of exposing himself to a young woman at a Kennewick mall and was facing charges. His attorney in that case says he has struggled with bipolar disorder.

Jewish Federation leaders said Wednesday that they support the charges filed and are hoping for a "fair and speedy trial."

"We will be watching the prosecution closely, making sure each woman's energy and spirit is in the courtroom every day," said Robin Boehler, chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com

Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or nsinger@seattletimes.com

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

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