32-year sentence in 2007 Turlock park shooting

A Stanislaus County judge has sentenced a 50-year-old Waterford man who shot his estranged girlfriend in the back at a crowded Turlock park to 32 years to life in prison.

A jury in February convicted James Oliver Haberkam Sr. of attempted murder and discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury after a fight with his girlfriend of 10 years at Donnelly Park. Superior Court Judge Timothy Salter sentenced him Sept. 23.

Haberkam forced a five-hour standoff with police Sept. 27, 2007, after he showed his ex-girlfriend a gun, threatened to kill her, her new boyfriend and himself, then shot her with a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun when she broke free.

While negotiating with police, Haberkam made suicidal comments and pointed the gun to his chest, authorities said.

Haberkam's son, who asked not to be named, told The Bee in 2007 his father meant only to kill himself in front of his ex. His son, who was 23 at the time, said Haberkam had a raft of mental and physical problems, from bipolar disorder to heart problems and a cancer diagnosis.

"He had lots of depression," the son said.

Officers from Turlock; California State University, Stanislaus; the California Highway Patrol; Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department; and the Ceres and Livingston police departments arrived about 10:25 a.m. to clear 300 people from Donnelly Park and surrounding streets.

Haberkam backed away from the victim as police pulled shotguns and called for him to drop the weapon, a witness said. Two female police officers got to the wounded woman and carried her to safety behind a patrol car.

Nearly five hours later, Haberkam put down his weapon.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at or 578-2337. Follow her at