A 30-year-old Pakistani man, announcing he was a Muslim and angry about Israel, pulled out a gun in the Seattle Jewish Federation today and shot six people, one dead.
Navid Hag in 1994
The gunman, identified by law enforcement sources as Naveed Afzal Haq, 30, reportedly lives in Pasco, Wash., and has a charge of lewd conduct pending against him in Benton County, Washington. He reportedly is a U.S. citizen.
According to several witnesses, Haq got through security and announced to staff members: “I’m a Muslim American; I’m angry at Israel.” He immediately began shooting randomly with a semiautomatic 9-mm handgun at the 18 employees and visitors in the offices.
The Seattle Times reports the gunman ordered a receptionist to call 911 after he shot her.
“He told the police that it was a hostage situation and he wanted us to get our weapons out of Israel,” one of the wounded workers said.
FBI spokesman David Gomez said officials believe the suspect acted alone and is not affiliated with a foreign organization.
Haq’s father was a founding member of the Islamic Centre of Tri-Cities in Richland. He and his wife moved to Pasco three years ago.
According to Chris Richey of Everett, Haq had been his neighbor until two weeks ago, when he abruptly moved. The landlady at their apartment told Richey Haq was going to Pakistan. Haq spoke often about guns and politics, said Richey, and didn’t like President Bush.
A law-enforcement source said Haq had a licence to carry a concealed weapon.
Attorney Larry Stephenson, who is representing Haq on a misdemeanor lewd conduct charge for allegedly exposing himself in a public place, said his client had been scheduled for trial last Thursday, but the action was postponed. Haq is not married, has no children and no job, Stephenson said.
Stephenson refused to disclose any mental-health issues his client might have.
“I’m really not OK to discuss that,” he said.
A hospital spokesman said five women were brought in, and three of them are in critical condition. Three are in their 20s, one is 19 and the other is 43. The 43-year-old was shot in the abdomen. One of the victims is in her 17th week of pregnancy.
A joint terrorism task force joined SWAT teams and a bomb disposal unit at the scene.
“Throughout the city, we have directed all our patrol officers to monitor closely all synagogues and other Jewish organizations, and we have also advised neighboring agencies in the Puget Sound area to do the same,” said Nick Metz, Seattle Police Department.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle says on its website that its mission is to “ensure Jewish survival and enhance the quality of Jewish life locally, in Israel and worldwide.”
The FBI has labeled the shootings a “hate crime” based on what the gunman told police in a 911 call, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.