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Jury returns guilty verdict for park shooter

Jury returns guilty verdict for park shooter

James Haberkam, Sr. was arrested after shooting his ex-girlfriend in the chest at Donnelly Park in September 2007.


POSTED February 16, 2010 9:46 p.m.
A Waterford man who shot his estranged girlfriend and sparked a five-hour standoff at Turlock’s Donnelly Park was convicted by a Stanislaus County jury on attempted murder charges.
The jury returned a guilty verdict for James Oliver Haberkam, 49, after a week long trial. Haberkam was convicted of attempted murder and assault with a firearm. He faces a life term for the attempted murder conviction, with a minimum parole eligibility of 25 years under the “10-20- Life Law” for discharging a firearm and causing great bodily injury.
The case against Haberkam arose out of events that transpired on Sept. 29, 2007.
The prosecution presented evidence during the trial that Haberkam was despondent over the end of a 10-year relationship with his girlfriend and that she had recently started seeing someone new.
Haberkam asked the woman if she would meet him at the park to discuss bills related to the apartment they had shared. When the woman arrived, Haberkam grabbed her and showed her a 380 semi automatic handgun. He threatened to kill her and her new boyfriend before turning the gun on himself, according to the prosecution.
The woman was able to break free, but as she tried to run to safety, Haberkam aimed the gun at her and shot her once in the back.
The shooting took place around 10:30 a.m. and the park was full of individuals and families, including dozens of children there for a birthday party. As people ran for cover, the Turlock and California State University, Stanislaus police departments arrived and surrounded the park. Officers approached Haberkam at gunpoint and found him standing over the victim with his gun aimed down at her.
Three of the initial officers on scene were able to convince Haberkam to back away from the woman and they dragged her to a safe location. She was taken to Emanuel Medical Center by ambulance and then airlifted to a Modesto hospital.
Within a short time the park had been deserted except for Haberkam, who was hunkered down between some trees and bushes with a little yellow puppy, and the squad of police officers and sheriff’s deputies who were positioned around the park with their guns and rifles drawing a bead on Haberkam.
A hostage negotiations team began a long conversation with Haberkam, who expressed moments of despondency throughout the negotiation, indicating he wanted “suicide by cop.”
During the five-hour standoff Haberkam would alternate between raising the gun to his chest or chin and make suicidal threats and at other times he would scoop the puppy up and nuzzle it against his face.
Ultimately, the hostage negotiations team was able to convince Haberkam to put down the gun and surrender.
Haberkam has been held at the Stanislaus County Jail since his arrest in 2007. He will be back in court on March 16 for a sentencing hearing.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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