A man wanted in the slaying of a security guard set out to kill as many white people as he could on Tuesday, gunning down three men on the streets of downtown Fresno, before he was captured and admitted to the shootings, authorities said.
Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, was arrested shortly after the morning rampage that left three white men dead, police said.
Muhammad, who is black, fired 16 rounds in less than two minutes at four places within a block, shooting men who appeared to be going about their day, authorities said.
During his arrest, Muhammad shouted “Allahu Akbar,” but Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the shootings had “nothing to do with terrorism, in spite of the statement he made.”
“This is solely based on race,” Dyer told reporters.
Muhammad on Tuesday first walked up to a utility truck and shot a Pacific Gas & Electric Co employee sitting in the passenger seat.
The driver of the truck, who is Latino, sped off to the police department for help, but the worker, a 34-year-old white man, died.
Muhammad then shot at another person and missed, police said.
He aimed at a third, killing the 37-year-old on the sidewalk as he walked with a bag of groceries.
The final victim, 58, was gunned down in the parking lot of a charity building, authorities said.
Dyer said Muhammad approached a vehicle in between shootings, but he spared the lives of two Latina women who were in the car with a child.
“These were unprovoked attacks by an individual that was intent on carrying out homicides today. He did that,” Dyer said.
Police had put out a news release hours before the shootings saying that Muhammad was armed and dangerous, and was wanted in the shooting death of a security guard at a Motel 6 last week. The guard, 25-year-old Carl Williams, was white.
Muhammad told officers at his arrest that he was the guy they were looking for, Dyer said.
“I did it. I shot them,” Dyer said Muhammad told officers.
Police are searching for the revolver Muhammad said he tossed into a pile of clothing. The gun might have been picked up by someone else, Dyer said.
Muhammad faces four counts of murder and at least two additional charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
Stephen Hughes, 66, said he and his wife rushed home on Tuesday after receiving a frantic call from a neighbor. Hughes came home to see a body draped in a blanket on the sidewalk leading to his front door.
He first thought the shooting was gang-related, but then he noticed the bag of groceries near the body.
“It looks like a guy carrying his groceries home from the store,” Hughes said.
Muhammad has a criminal history that includes arrests on weapons, drugs and false imprisonment charges, as well as making terrorist threats. He had been associated with gangs, but he was not a confirmed member, police said.
Muhammad was charged in 2005 with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, court records showed. Federal prosecutors said at the time that he was also in possession of a 9mm semi-automatic handgun and two rifles after being convicted of a felony.
He claimed insanity and his attorney requested a psychiatric examination for his client. A psychiatrist who examined Muhammad believed he had psychosis, Muhammad’s attorney said in the court filing.
His attorney said that Muhammad had “paranoia,” and thought the justice system and his defense attorney were conspiring against him, court papers said.
“I never would have thought he would do anything like this,” said Muhammad’s brother, who asked not to be identified by name. “I’m just kind of shocked.”
He described his brother as a funny and intelligent man.
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