Six shot in an apparent hate crime. One person dead. One man, antagonistic toward Jewish organizations, acting on his own. Move this incident from Seattle to the Middle East and you have a major war on your hands, except that it seems the initial reports on this incident were somewhat overplayed.
Friday's shooting in Seattle has received a surprisingly small amount of national attention. This is in large part because of the current Middle East violence. Sadly ironic, isn't it? It's also due to a mixture of factors that seem to make this story less about anti-Semitism and more about just some crazy guy. If the body count had been higher, would this have received greater attention from the news media?
Here's The Seattle Times on Monday:
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.
Stories dealing with fast-breaking events are always better later in the news cycle -- as in two or three days later. Take, for instance, the Los Angeles Times on Saturday:
"We believe at this point it is just a lone individual acting out some kind of antagonism toward this particular organization," said David Gomez, assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism for the FBI's Seattle office, which classified the shooting as a hate crime.
Police officers recovered a handgun and found the gunman's pickup in a nearby garage, while SWAT teams searched the federation building. Several other buildings in the Belltown area near downtown Seattle were evacuated.
The shooting came five days after the federation helped sponsor a large rally in support of Israel in its battle with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Police officers had been given a general alert for possible attacks on synagogues and mosques, officials said.
Federation Vice President Amy Wasser-Simpson, who was not in the building, said staff members told her they heard the gunman declare that he was "angry about Israel."
No, really? You think this guy had some type of antagonism? And you think he was upset about Israel? I get very frustrated by quotes like this. I know you're quoting officials, so what they say has a certain level of relevance, but why quote speculation? In turns out that this type of speculation was largely irrelevant.
It's what cable television news is best at, except cable news is even worse than newspapers. Cable news typically follow those official comments up with talking heads spinning the situation. Newspapers leave the spin up to the reader. I like the maxim that if you don't have anything factual to say, don't say anything.
The best article I've seen yet is another Seattle Times piece on the shooter. He is 30 years old. He lived in the area and apparently has a history of mental illness. He's also facing charges of public indecency from a previous incident. And he's not connected with any radical Islamic group that the FBI was warning Jewish groups across the country to look out for.
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.
So it seems that this will be the last of any discussion of Naveed Haq being a part of some radical Islamic group. He was religious in some sense or another but his horrific actions last weekend seem to be those of a deranged individual, not a man acting for the greater cause of radical Islam.
Will we have any type of explanation for the quotes about Naveed Haq feeling an antagonism toward Jews or Israel? I certainly think it's needed.