FRESNO, Calif. – A man wanted in the slaying of a motel security guard set out to kill as many white people as he could, gunning down three men on the streets of downtown Fresno before he was captured and admitted to the killings, the city's police chief said Tuesday.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, was motivated by hate and was not connected to extremism, even though he said “Allahu akbar” during his arrest.
“This is solely based on race, and it had nothing to do with terrorism in spite of the statement he made,” Dyer said at a news conference.
Muhammad, who is black, fired 16 rounds in one minute at four places within a block, shooting men who appeared to be going about their day, authorities say.
He walked up to a utility truck and shot a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. employee sitting in the passenger seat, authorities say. The driver of the truck, who is Latino, sped off to the police department, but the worker, a 34-year-old white man, died.
Muhammad then shot at another person and missed. He aimed at a third, killing a 37-year-old on the sidewalk as he walked with a bag of groceries in a neighborhood lined with tall trees, authorities say. The final victim, 58, was gunned down in the parking lot of a charity building.
Dyer said Muhammad approached a vehicle in between shootings, but he spared the lives of two women who were in the car with a child. The women were Latina, he said.
Police had put out a news release hours before the shootings, saying that Muhammad was armed and dangerous and 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 he said he tossed into a pile of clothing. The gun may have been picked up by someone else, Dyer said.
On what appeared to be Muhammad's Facebook page, he repeatedly posted “#LetBlackPeopleGo” and encouraged “black warriors” to “mount up.”
He wrote that his “kill rate increases tremendously on the other side” and also posted about “white devils.” On several occasions, he wrote updates that included the phrase “Allahu Akbar,” meaning “God is great” in Arabic.
He was charged in 2005 with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, court records show. Federal prosecutors said at the time that he was also in possession of a 9 mm 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, saying Muhammad “appeared eccentric with some bizarre beliefs.” His attorney said Muhammad had “paranoia” and thought the justice system and his defense attorney were conspiring against him, court papers said.