The Seattle Times has new reporting on the Seattle Jewish Federation shooting case. Yesterday, many were wondering how the suspect could’ve breached fairly tight security designed to prevent just such types of incidents. Here is the answer:
The gunman who forced his way into the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on Friday afternoon put a gun at the back of a 13-year-old girl to gain entry to the building, police said this afternoon.
An earlier report claimed that he’d rushed into the building after an employee had punched in her ID information to gain entrance. It would appear that the 13 year old might’ve been the one who did that. Though this is only a surmise on my part. I feel so terribly sorry for that girl and the personal issues she will doubtless face related to this horror. Not that I am blaming her in any way. She is only 13 years old for God’s sake. No 13 year old should ever be forced to make a choice between her own life and that of others. And she could never have clearly known at such a tender age what such a fiend might do after she admitted him.
The Times adds these previously unknown details about the crime scene as well:
At a news conference this afternoon, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said the gunman was stopped on a minor traffic violation, he had been driving down a street exclusively used by buses, about a half hour before the shooting. He said he did nothing to arouse the officer’s suspicions.
The man then presumably drove to the federation building, where he hid behind a plant in the lobby for a short time. Kerlikowske said he waited for someone to come in to gain access into the office. When the 13-year-old girl walked up, he put a gun to her head and forced her to take him inside.
“She could not have kept him out,” Kerlikowske said. “She was a hostage.” The man carried two semi-automatic handguns and extra ammunition into the federation’s offices, the chief said.
“Once inside he immediately started firing at people.”
He rattled off anti-Israel slurs and commanded people not to dial 911. But shooting victim Dayna Klein, who is 17 weeks pregnant, ignored him. Her actions convinced Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske to call her a hero.
Seconds after being shot in the arm, she crawled across the floor toward a phone and called for help.
Within minutes police were at the building and the Everett man put down his two semi-automatic handguns and surrendered.
I once interviewed with Klein and other staff members for a fundraising job at Federation. Though I didn’t get the job (my outspoken blog may’ve contributed to that), she struck me as a very fine person. And I couldn’t agree more with the police chief’s comment that she acted heroically. It reminds me of some similar behavior I read about during the World Trade Center attacks. People used the physical and mental resources at their command to respond to the crisis. Many who acted heroically just viewed their behavior as common sense, which is I’m sure how Klein feels as well.
The Times also thankfully notes the improvement in the medical condition of the five wounded women:
This morning, officials at Harborview Medical Center said the three women critically injured in the gunfire have been upgraded from critical to serious condition.
Three of the victims underwent surgery Friday night. They are Layla Bush, 23, of Seattle; Christina Rexroad, 29, of Everett; and Cheryl Stumbo, 43, of Seattle. They are in the Intensive Care Unit, said Pamela Steele, hospital spokeswoman.
The two other victims, Dayna Klein, 37, of Seattle, and Carol Goldman, 35, of Seattle, remain in satisfactory condition.
UPDATE: The NY Times reports more of the attacker’s anti-Semitic ranting during the shooting and details more of Dayna Klein’s extraordinary heroism in facing down the suspect after he discovered that she’d called 911. Somehow, she got him not to shoot her again and she persuaded him to talk to the 911 operator, which was how the crisis was eventually ended:
The police are treating the shooting as a hate crime based on what they say Mr. Haq told a 911 dispatcher shortly before surrendering.
“He said he wanted the United States to leave Iraq, that his people were being mistreated and that the United States was harming his people,” Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske of the Seattle Police said Saturday at a news conference. “And he pointedly blamed the Jewish people for all of these problems. He stated he didn’t care if he lived.”
The chief said the gunman apparently selected the federation as a target by randomly searching the Internet for Jewish organizations in the area. The police confiscated at least three computers, he said.
Chief Kerlikowske described an intense and violent scene inside the federation, with some of the 18 people present jumping out of second-story windows and one young pregnant woman crawling to call 911 after being shot in the arm as she covered her abdomen. When the gunman later encountered her on the phone with emergency dispatchers, she refused to hang up.
“She was able to get him to take the telephone,” the chief said, calling her “a hero.”
A neighbor of Mr. Haq’s family in Pasco said Mr. Haq had spoken of Jews as recently as 10 days ago, sometimes using stereotypes about Jewish influence in the United States.
“He was saying he wasn’t trying to be racial about it but how they had control over a lot of the newscasts and things, ownership and stuff,” said the neighbor, Caleb Hales, 21.
Colleagues of the victims said the gunman had identified himself as “a Muslim-American” who was “angry at Israel.”
The A.P., citing a statement of probable cause, reported that Mr. Haq had told a 911 dispatcher, “These are Jews and I’m tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East.”