It is important when hatred strikes, as it did yesterday here in Seattle, to invoke the dead, to celebrate them as human beings, to appreciate what they brought to life so that he may feel all the more what has been lost. And we also must note the killer because he is a human being too, though a destructive and malevolent one. Just as there is tragedy on both sides of the Israeli-Arab conflict, so there is a double tragedy in Seattle.
The Seattle Times profiles both the dead and the killer today.
Pam Waechter, 58, was born in Minnesota and raised Lutheran. Then she met Bill Waechter and when they married she converted to Judaism. It is terribly ironic that a woman who elects to convert to Judaism in order to share the joy and fate of the Jewish people should pay the ultimate price for that commitment. They came to Seattle in 1979 where they raised two children and then divorced.
She was director of the Federation’s annual campaign. [Note: I too have been a fundraiser for two Jewish federations though I never worked at the Seattle Federation] Before that she’d worked at Jewish Family Service.
The Times provides this touching personal background about Waechter:
In both her paid and volunteer work, she was known as a mediator, always bringing a calm, balanced approach to problems.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Pam stepped in to protect other people,” said Marshall Brumer, a past president of Temple B’nai Torah. “That’s the kind of person she was.”
At the Bellevue synagogue this morning, Rabbi James Mirel called Waechter “the most positive, optimistic person you ever met.” From the pulpit, he told the congregation, “Pam would have said, ‘You have to go on.'”
Chuck Hall, 56, of Minneapolis, explained that “no” was the one word his sister wouldn’t say. He described her as a friend to people of all ages, from 20 to 80.
She also was one of his closest friends. They talked about dating after divorce. They talked about what would happen to their children, when they died. Just last week, Hall brought up the conflict in the Middle East, asking the question: When is it ever going to end?
His sister had no answer. She only sighed.
Waechter believed in the basic goodness of people. So if the scene on Friday had unfolded elsewhere, her brother said, she would have called him right away to say: Can you imagine somebody would do that?
She would not have mentioned first the fact that the shooter was Muslim, Hall said. She was not that kind of woman.
Given family history, he said, Waechter was relieved to make it this far in life. Their mother died at age 56, of breast cancer. Waechter always saw that age as a milestone she needed to make it past.
Waechter’s funeral will be 1 p.m. Monday at Temple B’nai Torah, 15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue, according to the synagogue. The service will be open to the public.
Naveed Haq, 30, was raised in Pasco, WA in a second-generation Pakistani-American family. The Times provides some information about his family background:
Haq’s parents were shaken by the news that their son was in custody for the shootings, said Haq’s Kennewick defense attorney, Larry Stephenson.
“I talked to his father, and his mother is crying, and they don’t know what is going on,” Stephenson said. “They are very, very shook up. They haven’t been able to reach their son.”
Haq had been charged with misdemeanor lewd conduct in Benton County for allegedly exposing himself in a public place in Kennewick, Stephenson said. He declined to elaborate. The charge is punishable by up to a year in jail.
The case had been scheduled to go to trial in Benton County District Court on Thursday, but was postponed.
Stephenson said he does not believe Haq is married or has children. Stephenson said he did not believe Haq had a job.
Haq went to college, Stephenson said, but he declined to say where.
Asked if Haq had any mental-health issues, Stephenson said he couldn’t comment. “I’m really not OK to discuss that,” he said.
Haq’s father, Mian A. Haq, was a founding member of the Islamic Centre of Tri-Cities in Richland, said center member Youseff Shehadeh. He described the younger Haq as a loner who attended holidays at the center but was barely involved in recent years.
Naveed Haq’s parents moved into a new suburb in Pasco less than three years ago after living in nearby Richland for more than a decade, said Maureen Hales, a neighbor.
Mian Haq was involved in an Islamic center in Richland, but he did not discuss his religion with his neighbors, said Hales.
She said she had not seen Naveed Haq, but found his parents and his younger brother, Hasan, to be “quite enjoyable.” The two families exchanged food, and Maureen Hales said she watches the Haqs’ house when they’re away.
Until two weeks ago, he’d lived in Everett, WA., a small city about 30 miles north of Seattle:
Naveed Haq lived in an apartment building at 2924 Nassau St. in Everett until about two weeks ago, when he abruptly left, said tenant Chris Richey. The landlady told Richey that Haq was heading to Pakistan. Richie often talked with Haq about guns and politics, though little stuck out. Richey said Haq didn’t like President Bush.
Haq told Richey he owned a .45-caliber handgun, which he kept locked up in safety deposit box.
The law-enforcement source said Haq had a license to carry a concealed weapon.
“There was something strange about him,” Richey said. “There was something about him I didn’t like.”
A law enforcement source told the Times that he had a history of mental illness. One wonders how a man with a history of mental illness can get a license to carry a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Yet another example of rampant gun violence and the price society pays for being hijacked by the NRA. He also has a charge of lewd conduct pending against him:
Haq had been charged with misdemeanor lewd conduct in Benton County for allegedly exposing himself in a public place in Kennewick, Stephenson said.
You’ll note that the Lebanon invasion began two weeks ago just as Haq abandoned his Everett home. One wonders whether the two events might be connected. Yesterday, he made his way to the Jewish Federation headquarters with a gun. He forced his way into the building and, after telling employees he was a Muslim who was angry with Israel he began shooting. Pam Waechter, a 58 year old fundraiser for the Federation was killed and five other women were injured, three critically.
Here is what is known of his motivation for the crime:
“He said he hates Israel,” said the source, who is part of the Seattle Joint Terrorism Task Force, which was called in to help investigate the shootings.
…He told the police that it was a hostage situation and he wanted us to get our weapons out of Israel,” said one woman who heard the account from the wounded co-worker.
The Times lists this information about the wounded survivors:
One of the victims was identified by family members as 23-year-old Layla Bush. “We just heard she’s alive a minute or two ago,” said her mother, Kathryn Bush, from her home in Panama City, Fla. The other wounded victims have been identified as Carol Goldman, Dayna Klein, Christina Rexroad and Cheryl Stumbo.
Thankfully, Muslim leaders in Seattle and nationally have condemned the violence.
Another Seattle Times article adds this important information confirming his mental illness and his history of hatred of Jews:
Haq often talked about guns, politics and his dislike of President Bush, Richey said. Haq told Richey he owned a .45-caliber handgun, which he kept locked in a safe-deposit box.
A friend of Haq’s in Everett, who spoke on condition he not be named, said Friday night that Haq was on medication for bipolar disorder and was frustrated by his inability to find a job or a girlfriend. Haq displayed a streak of anti-Semitism, sometimes making offhand comments about Jews.
“He was a loner,” the friend said. “I was probably one of his only friends.”
Although Haq made a point of announcing his Muslim faith before opening fire Friday, he had told the friend he was not a practicing Muslim because he was turned off by the religion’s strict gender divisions.
The article also notes that the feds have apparently decided to invoke a federal hate crime which would remove it from Seattle or state jurisdiction:
A man who answered the door at the Haq family’s house Friday night said the house was a federal crime scene.
This would also feed into the Bush war on terror agenda allowing the Republicans to show how tough they are on domestic terrorism in an election year. Yes, it’s playing politics with the dead time back in D.C.