SEATTLE – The man accused in the shooting rampage at Seattle's Jewish Federation office last week was charged Wednesday with nine felony counts, including aggravated first-degree murder and violation of the state's hate-crime law.
"Make no mistake, this was a hate crime," King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng told a news conference. "The attack on these women was an attack on the Jewish community, not only in Seattle but throughout our nation and the world."
Naveed Afzal Haq is charged with aggravated first-degree murder in the death of Pamela Waechter, 58, director of the Jewish charity's annual fundraising campaign. Conviction is punishable either by life in prison or death; Maleng has 30 days to decide whether to seek the death penalty.
"One thing is clear. The world has gotten to be a smaller place," Maleng said. "And we feel here at home the tension of military conflicts. We feel here at home the fear of terrorism, perpetuated in places far away, and we know that local people can use violence against innocent victims to try and insert themselves into a global conflict."
Maleng said Haq also is charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder in the wounding Friday afternoon of five women at the federation's downtown offices; one count of first-degree kidnapping, involving a teenage girl who was briefly taken hostage; one count of first-degree burglary for allegedly entering a locked facility to commit a crime; and one count of malicious harassment under the state's hate-crime law.
"I think you can tell from the tenor of my remarks that this is one of the more aggravated cases and heinous and tragic cases that we've had in our community," the prosecutor said.
Haq is being held in the King County Jail without bail. Arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 10.
The gunman Friday broke into the building and began shooting at employees. Court documents say that while inside the office, Haq got on the phone with 911 operators, identified himself by name and said, "This is a hostage situation and I want these Jews to get out." He later added, "These are Jews and I'm tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East."
Haq, 30, was raised in the Tri-Cities area of south-central Washington. His father, an engineer, founded an Islamic center there, but Haq did not often practice the religion, acquaintances said.