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Seattle Shooting Plea Delayed

Naveed Afzal Haq headshot, suspect in the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle shooting, photo on black
AP
The man charged in the shootings at Seattle's Jewish Federation offices has indicated he wants to plead guilty, his attorney said Thursday, but a judge continued his arraignment a week to help the attorney determine whether his is competent to make such a plea.

Naveed Afzal Haq is charged with aggravated first-degree murder in the death of Pamela Waechter, 58, director of the Jewish charity's annual fundraising campaign. He's also charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder in the wounding of five women at the federation's downtown offices on July 28; one count of first-degree kidnapping, involving a teenage girl who was briefly taken hostage; one count of first-degree burglary for allegedly entering a locked facility to commit a crime; and one count of malicious harassment under the state's hate-crime law.

Haq, 30, said little at his brief arraignment Thursday, but his court-appointed attorney, C. Wesley Richards, told the judge that Haq "is indicating that it his desire to enter guilty pleas."

Richards said he was not aware before the hearing that Haq intended to enter those pleas. At Richards' request, the hearing was continued the hearing until next Tuesday to allow Richards to determine whether Haq was competent to enter such a plea.

The judge also granted a prosecution request to bar Haq from having contact with victims of the shooting, or with volunteers and employees of the Jewish Federation.

Haq is being held in the King County Jail without bail.

He is accused of forcing his way into the downtown offices of the Seattle charity and opening fire with a handgun, saying that he was upset about the war in Iraq and U.S. support of Israel.

The shooting started when one woman reached for a phone, hoping to call 911.

It ended when another — 17 weeks pregnant, with a bullet in her arm and a gun to her head — asked the gunman if he'd like to speak with an operator.

The man identified as Haq took the phone, and within moments the horrific rampage at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle was over, prosecutors said Wednesday as they filed nine state felony counts, including aggravated first-degree murder, against him.

"Make no mistake, this was a hate crime," King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng told a news conference last week. "The attack on these women was an attack on the Jewish community, not only in Seattle but throughout our nation and the world."

Jewish Federation officials said they were satisfied with the charges and had no opinion on whether the prosecutor should seek the death penalty.

"These nine charges do not just represent crimes," chairwoman Robin Boehler said Wednesday. "They represent women who were going about their daily lives, working unselfishly for the community on a Friday afternoon."