Second trial begins in Seattle Jewish center shooting

SEATTLE — A second trial began today to determine whether a mentally ill man who stormed a Jewish center in 2006, killing one woman and wounding five others as he railed against Israel and U.S. foreign policy, was legally insane at the time.

Naveed Haq’s first trial ended last year with jurors deadlocked on that question.

On July 28, 2006, Haq drove from his eastern Washington home to Seattle and forced a teenage girl at gunpoint to let him into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. Once in the second-floor office, he opened fire, shooting some people in their cubicles, some in the hall and one, Pamela Waechter, fatally as she fled down a stairwell.

Before surrendering, he told a 911 operator he wanted to get on CNN. Deputy King County prosecutor Don Raz told 16 jurors in his opening statement today that the shooting spree was “Naveed Haq’s press release.”

“He was tired that no one was listening to the Muslim point of view. He wanted that point of view heard,” Raz said. “Naveed Haq’s mental illness did not cause him to attack the Jewish Federation. His anger did.”

Raz focused his opening statement on Haq’s preparations in an effort to show that his mind was clear at the time.

Haq made several trips to gun stores in the prior weeks, wrote two documents on his father’s computer criticizing Israel and U.S. policy in the Middle East and used MapQuest to find directions to the center from his family’s home in Pasco, 180 miles east of Seattle.

On his way to the Jewish center, he pulled off Interstate 5 and test-fired his gun, Raz said, and when pulled over for driving down a bus-only street in rush hour, he seemed normal to a police officer.

In a recorded phone conversation with his mother after the shooting, Raz said, Haq told his mother, “I did a very good thing. I did it for a good reason.”

She said, “I know you’re not well,” to which Haq replied: “Whatever, Mom.”

Haq’s lawyers were expected to argue that Haq had well documented mental problems for more than a decade, including auditory hallucinations and paranoid delusions, and could not perceive the quality of his actions. A defense expert at his first trial diagnosed him as having bipolar disorder with psychotic tendencies.

The shooting left one victim, Layla Bush, unable to walk. Another, Cheryl Stumbo, said it made her more active in pushing for mental health care for Washington residents, and Carol Goldman has said she now volunteers at Harborview Medical Center, where the critically injured women were treated.

Stumbo was expected to testify today, as was her niece, who was 14 at the time. Haq ambushed the girl in the lobby and forced her to let him into the charity’s office.

Richard Fruchter, the Jewish Federation’s president, attended the trial Wednesday and said he wanted to “ensure that Mr. Haq never again has the opportunity to cause such devastation in people’s lives and send a clear message that such acts of hate are not tolerated in our greater Seattle community.”

“Having to endure a second trial is an unfortunate reality, but we are committed to seeing this through,” he said.

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