"We made eye contact, and he shot me again": Harrowing testimony on the third day of Naveed Haq's trial in the 2006 rampage at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.
As witnesses in Naveed Haq’s trial told of the carnage that befell the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle nearly two years ago, attorneys for the defense and prosecution Wednesday worked to coax from them subtle details that could help decode for a King County jury the mood and mind-set of the shooter.
Was his voice loud? Did he wave his gun or hold it steady? Did he “leave his emotions at the door?” attorneys asked two women who testified to first being surprised, then terrified as the gunman entered their workplace, pointed a black gun their direction and fired.
Jurors have to decide whether Haq burst into the Belltown offices of the Jewish Federation on July 28, 2006, and shot six women, killing employee Pamela Waechter, facts even his attorneys don’t dispute. But they also will weigh more critical questions of whether Haq — a Muslim with a history of mental illness who police say spouted anti-Semitic statements during the rampage — initiated the shooting out of sheer hate or in a manic state of insanity.
Haq, 32, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to one count of aggravated murder, five counts of attempted aggravated murder, and numerous other crimes, including the state’s hate-crime law.
Most Read Local Stories
- End Daylight Saving Time in Washington? Why a state lawmaker thinks the effort has a chance this year
- Seattle-area residents least likely in nation to give their neighborhoods top marks | FYI Guy
- Decade of heavy storms has helped Northwest glaciers, but don't expect that to last, studies show
- Teen shot at Walmart in Renton was a 'good kid' and father of two, grandmother says
- Scientists identify another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon
Testimony resumed this morning, with shooting victim Christina Rexroad recounting the day Haq walked into the federation offices and opened fire. She is the fourth victim to testify.
“I heard popping noises. I thought it was balloons,” Rexroad testified.
She said she walked down a hallway and saw Haq, who was holding a handgun. Rexroad said Haq said something that she could not recall and then shot her.
Rexroad began to cry and Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas called a short recess so Rexroad could compose herself. Rexroad is expected to resume her testimony later this morning.
Afterward, jurors heard from Seattle police Officer Donald Johnson, who helped save Rexroad’s life after she ran from Haq and escaped through a back exit onto the street.
Johnson was having coffee down the block when he and three other officers heard about a shooting. As he ran down the street, Johnson saw Rexroad slumped by the side of the federation building, losing blood from a wound to her abdomen.
“She turned white on me. I thought she had passed,” Johnson testified.
He pressed the wound and eventually helped carry Rexroad 50 feet to emergency medics, who Johnson said would not enter the danger zone where Rexroad lay.
The details today marked the fourth day of emotional testimony as jurors hear from victims, learn details about the rampage and look at some of the more than 400 prosecution photos of the scene and evidence.
On Wednesday, jurors heard conflicting testimony as attorneys sifted for clues about Haq’s demeanor.
“He seemed panicked, is that fair to say?” defense attorney John Carpenter asked Layla Bush, the federation receptionist who was shot twice by Haq.
“To some degree, yes,” she replied.
At times he didn’t appear to be aiming at anything specific, she said. “He was just holding the gun and shooting,” she testified.
But when he first entered the building Haq was “very deliberate, like he really thought about what he wanted to say.”
But did he seem frustrated? Carpenter asked. Bush testified that he did.
What was his tone? Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Don Raz asked Carol Goldman, another victim who testified on the third day of Haq’s trial in King County Superior Court. “It seemed normal,” she said, adding that later Haq became “much more forceful.”
“I didn’t detect a tone,” she later told defense attorney C. Wesley Richards.
Was he perhaps agitated? Richards pressed. “Perhaps,” Goldman said. “So a loud tone?” he asked. “Correct.”
On the stand Wednesday both women tried to re-create what happened between the time Haq entered the federation and when he surrendered to police summoned by seven separate 911 calls.
Bush said she watched in horror as Haq shot co-worker Goldman before he turned toward her. “I heard the gunshots. I turned around … and that’s when he shot me in the side. The bullet hit my spine, my leg went out, and I fell back.”
Haq then disappeared. As she lay on the office carpet, Bush said she thought about her duty to call 911 and about running, but she couldn’t get up.
Suddenly, Haq returned.
“We made eye contact, and he shot me again. I believe he was trying to kill me,” she testified. Later, she said, she heard Haq “ranting” about his anger toward Jews and Israel.
Goldman, who also testified, said she didn’t know anything was awry that afternoon until co-worker Cheryl Stumbo called out to her to dial 911.
Goldman didn’t get a chance.
Haq appeared at the door of her office, Goldman told jurors, holding a gun in his hand. “It was pointed directly at me,” she said.
Haq fired at her knee, Goldman testified.
“I got out of my chair and dove underneath my desk, trying to get out of the line of sight,” she said. “I was just trying to stay alive.”
Haq then disappeared and Goldman heard a burst of shots down the hallway, she testified. “I heard one person whimpering. I heard one person screaming.”
Finally, Goldman reached for the phone and dialed 911, holding a T-shirt to her gushing wound as she waited for police.
Prosecutors have opted not to seek the death penalty against Haq after reviewing his mental-health-treatment records.
If convicted of the aggravated-murder charge, he faces life in prison without parole.
Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or email@example.com