Naveed Haq, the Tri-Cities man who forced his way into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle 3-1/2 years ago and gunned down six women, killing one, was sentenced this morning to life in prison.
Naveed Haq was sentenced to life in prison this morning for barging into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle 3 ½ years ago, killing one woman and wounding five others amid an anti-Israel tirade.
Addressing the court for the first time, Haq blamed the shootings on mental illness and lack of treatment.
“I understand you are angry,” said Haq, 34. “The tragedy wouldn’t have occurred if it wasn’t for bad medical care and mental illness.”
Haq apologized for the attack “from the depth of my being.”
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“I am not a man filled with hate,” said the Tri-Cities man. “That Naveed Haq at the Federation that July day was not the real Naveed Haq.”
Several of the surviving victims and their relatives addressed the court before the sentencing and recounted how the July 26, 2006, shootings indelibly scarred their lives. Haq looked downward as they spoke.
Nicole Waechter, daughter of Pamela Waechter, who was slain in the attack, spoke of how her mother would want her family to react to the attack.
“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.”
Cheryl Stumbo, 46, who still suffers from the gunshot wound in her abdomen, spoke forcefully, telling Haq “you will spend the rest of your life paying for your choices.”
She then added, “I’m making choices. I chose to change the world by helping, not hurting.”
The sentencing was a formality since Haq’s conviction last month for aggravated murder in Pamela Waechter’s death carried an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole. The King County jury also found Haq, guilty of malicious harassment, the state’s hate-crime statute, five counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of unlawful imprisonment.
During the 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 efforts in support of Israel.
Haq surrendered after talking with a 911 dispatcher.
The trial was Haq’s second for the shooting.
In June 2008, his first trial resulted in a mistrial when jurors were deadlocked on all but one of the 15 counts after nearly two weeks of deliberations. Prosecutors immediately announced they would retry Haq, but changed their strategy by reducing the charges to eight.
During both of his trials, Haq’s defense team sought to have him sent to a state mental hospital rather than prison. Prosecutors agreed that Haq is mentally ill, but contended that he was sane when he entered the federation and opened fire.
The surviving victims testified during both trials.
In addition to Stumbo, Carol Goldman, Dayna Klein, Christina Rexroad and Layla Bush were wounded in the attack.
Jurors in Haq’s second trial said that they didn’t accept the defense’s contention that Haq was criminally insane at the time of the shootings.
The jury deliberated for about 2 ½ days before returning the verdicts against Haq.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org