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Monday, July 31, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Gunman's mother had tried to talk him out of Seattle trip

Seattle Times staff reporter

Haq family statement

"We are shocked and devastated with this tragic event. Our hearts and condolences go to the family of the deceased lady. Our deepest sympathies go to those who have been injured and we pray for their speedy recovery. We could not have imagined for a moment that our son would do this senseless act. This is utterly contrary to our beliefs and Islamic values. We have always believed and practiced in fostering love, peace and harmony with everyone, irrespective of religion, race and ethnicity."

Naveed Afzal Haq left Pasco on Thursday evening intent on driving to Seattle, despite his mother's pleas that he stay home with his family.

His parents, who for years had witnessed Haq's struggle with mental illness, worried about his ability to cope in a place where he'd never had much luck making friends or holding down jobs, said Larry Stephenson, a Kennewick lawyer speaking on behalf of Haq's family.

Less than 24 hours later, the 30-year-old Haq forced his way into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle's office and randomly shot six women, killing one. Prosecutors are expected to file charges this week against Haq, who is being held in the King County Jail in lieu of $50 million bail on suspicion of homicide and five counts of attempted homicide.

Haq's parents, Mian and Nahida Haq, released a statement Sunday expressing their shock and sorrow over the shootings. "We could not have imagined for a moment that our son would do this senseless act. This is utterly contrary to our beliefs and Islamic values," the statement provided by Stephenson said.

Stephenson said that Haq's parents told him after the shooting that their son had obtained a handgun several years ago and that they had taken it away.

"They are pretty shook up. The shooting was every parent's nightmare," Stephenson said. "They are surprised, shocked and very, very hurt."

Haq was supposed to be in court on Thursday to stand trial on a lewd-conduct charge stemming from allegations that he exposed himself to young women at a Kennewick mall in March. The trial was postponed because Stephenson was tied up on another case in court.

Haq "was pretty indignant" about the misdemeanor allegations and "flat-out denied doing it," Stephenson said.

He said Haq's mother said her son was agitated about the case and she wanted him to stay close to the family.

"Call it a mother's intuition, but she didn't feel good about it, and Seattle was never a good place for him," Stephenson said.

Stephenson said Haq had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder 10 years ago and was taking several powerful medications, including lithium and Depakote. Haq was often depressed, couldn't hold a job and spent a lot of time sleeping, he said.

Haq's parents, who also have a younger son, "have been riding a roller coaster for years," Stephenson said.

He said Haq's parents did not know that in the weeks before the shootings their son had purchased two semi-automatic handguns from Tri-Cities gun shops.

"They were always worried his mental illness was going to act up, and they obviously never wanted him to be around guns," the lawyer said.

Haq's parents are desperate to see their son but they feel "like prisoners in their own home" because of intense media attention, said Stephenson, who is trying to arrange a jailhouse visit this week.

Haq, he said, was clearly troubled and had few friends: "He didn't belong anyplace and that was his problem. He was isolated and alienated. He just didn't fit in and saw himself as getting mistreated."

Haq also seemed self-conscious about his appearance. He wore elevator soles on his shoes to boost his 5-foot, 4-inch frame and often a toupee or ball cap to cover his bald pate, according to a former workmate, who asked not to be identified because he does not want his name associated with Haq.

And though he spoke almost incessantly about working out, Haq was "short and stubby" and not in very good shape, said the man, a 33-year-old actuary who now lives in Chicago.

He said he last saw Haq in May 2005 and spoke to him by phone a month later.

The man — the only friend Haq listed on the social-networking site, Friendster.com — met Haq when they worked at a math-tutoring center at Pasco's Columbia Basin College.

Haq's friend said he couldn't believe the timid, "geeky" man he knew from the tutoring center was capable of such violence.

"Are you sure we're talking about the same person?" he said Sunday.

The two would sometimes go to bars after work but Haq never drank alcohol. Haq would often bum Camel Lights from his friend but never bought cigarettes of his own.

Calling himself a "peripheral friend," the man said his own parents are Hindus from India, while Haq's are Muslims from Pakistan. Yet the two never spoke about religion, or world conflicts.

He said Haq was not a devout Muslim and often complained that the Tri-Cities were too politically conservative.

"I'm beginning to think I was his only friend in the Tri-Cities. I don't recall him hanging out with anybody else."

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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