My shooting was a hate crime. I was shot, my coworkers were shot, because a man filled with hate assumed we were Jewish. Some of us were. I was not, then. My shooter was a stranger, a hate-filled man frustrated with his own lack of significance in the world. He was the ultimate form of a bully — someone who kills others because of the hate he harbors in his heart and mind.
I was shot Friday, July 28, 2006, at about 4:00 p.m., while at work at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. My shooter was convicted of one count of aggravated murder (a hate crime, and with a firearm) and five counts of attempted murder. He was found guilty by a jury on December 15, 2009. My mom, who sat with me through both entire trials (the first trial was declared a mistrial — there was an anti-Semite on the jury, we found out later), died a couple of weeks later, on December 27, 2009, of cancer.
A couple of weeks later, on January 14, 2010, my shooter was sentenced to life in prison, no parole. His victims were allowed to speak at the sentencing hearing. I said to him, “You will spend the rest of your life paying for your choices. I’m making choices. I choose to change the world by helping, not hurting.” I made true on that promise by becoming the citizen sponsor of Washington State’s Initiative 594 for universal background checks on all firearms sales, which passed by a landslide vote in November 2014.