Seattle Jewish center shooter gets life sentence

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Naveed Haq insists he’s not the same man who stalked the halls of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle in 2006, killing one woman and wounding five others to vent his hatred of Israel and Judaism.

In a courtroom filled with victims and their relatives, Haq said Thursday that the man who attacked the federation was filled with rage from mental illness and the wrong medications.

“I am not a man filled with hate,” he said. “That Naveed Haq at the federation that July day was not the real Naveed Haq.”


But before a judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole -- an obligatory penalty given his crimes -- one victim took the stand and told Haq, “You will spend the rest of your life paying for your choices.”

“I’m making choices,” said Cheryl Stumbo, 47,who is still dealing with the effects of a bullet wound to her abdomen. “I chose to change the world by helping, not hurting.”

A King County jury convicted Haq, 34, last month of aggravated murder in the death of federation campaign director Pamela Waechter, which resulted in the automatic sentence of life without parole.

Haq was also convicted of malicious harassment, the state’s hate-crime statute, five counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of unlawful imprisonment.

In addition to the life sentence, King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas ordered that Haq serve 87 1/2 years for the attempted murders, more than eight years for the malicious harassment and unlawful imprisonment charges, and 33 years for using a firearm, prosecutors said. The sentences will be served back-to-back, not at the same time.

During the seven-week trial, witnesses testified that Haq, who is of Pakistani heritage, railed against Jews and U.S.-Israeli policies as he opened fire in the Jewish Federation, an umbrella organization for the local Jewish community that raises money for social-welfare organizations, runs youth and adult educational programs, and engages in activities to support Israel.


Haq surrendered after talking with a 911 dispatcher, who told him she could not connect him with CNN. Haq told the dispatcher that he wanted to explain his views to the media.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg called the case “our state’s worst hate crime.”

“Naveed Haq’s intention was to frighten Jews everywhere and instill fear that they could be the next convenient target,” Satterberg said after Haq’s conviction.

Haq’s first trial, in June 2008, ended in a mistrial when jurors deadlocked.

During both trials, Haq’s defense team sought to have him sent to a state mental hospital rather than prison.

Mian Haq apologized for his son’s actions and told the judge Thursday that his son has long struggled with mental illness.

Naveed Haq said he thought daily about Waechter and the women he wounded.

“This tragedy would not have occurred if it wasn’t for bad medical care and mental illness,” he said in court. “I am sorry. I apologize from the depth of my being.”

Waechter’s daughter, Nicole, told the judge that her mother would want her family to stay strong.


“She would tell us to keep going, not to dwell on this tragedy,” she said through tears. “My mom lives on in many of us.”

Sullivan writes for the Seattle Times.