FRESNO, Calif. — The gunman suspected of killing three white men in a racially charged attack in Fresno was proud of what he had accomplished and laughed many times as he explained his actions in interviews with police, authorities said Wednesday.
After Kori Ali Muhammad learned that he was wanted for the death of a security guard last week, he wanted to take out as many other white men as possible, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
“He was going to kill as many white males as possible and that’s what he set out to do that day. He said he did not like white men and said white people were responsible for keeping black people down,” Dyer said.
Muhammad “is not a terrorist but he is a racist,” Dyer said.
The suspect, who is black, was candid in explaining his actions from Thursday night to Tuesday morning, when he methodically shot and killed three white men on the same block, the police chief said.
He told police that the security guard had disrespected him during an earlier altercation at a Motel 6.
Muhammad hid out in a ravine and practiced voodoo rituals after the motel slaying. He also told investigators he is Muslim, but he prays to seven different gods and has not been to a mosque in 25 years.
On Tuesday, after he learned he was wanted for the guard’s death, he set out to kill more people, Dyer said.
He noticed a white man in a utility truck and fired into the truck, killing Zackary Randalls. He also shot Mark Gassett on a sidewalk, pumping two more rounds into him as the man lay on the ground. Finally, he fired in the direction of a bus stop where he spotted three white males.
They scattered, and Muhammad picked the one who appeared heavier, David Jackson.
“That was going to be his target, and he caught up with him and he fired two rounds into this individual,” Dyer said.
Dyer said Muhammad showed no remorse in interviews and laughed many times.
Randalls was the first to die when Muhammad walked up to a Pacific Gas &Electric truck and fired into the passenger seat. The driver sped to the police department for help, but Randalls could not be saved.
Friend Eddie Valencia said Randalls was excited to start work as a customer-service representative and was doing a ride-along Tuesday. He described the 34-year-old as an open-minded person with a sharp wit and a big heart.
He said his friend, who left behind two preschoolers and a wife in Clovis, would not want people to feel anger toward the shooter.
“He wouldn’t want people to be divided by this,” Valencia said. “There were no boundaries with race, religions, beliefs, with anything. If you were a good person and basically could have a good conversation, he would call you a friend. He was a stand-up guy.”
The three men killed Tuesday had no known connection to each other or to the shooter, who is expected to be arraigned Friday.
Gassett, 37, of Fresno, had just picked up groceries at a Catholic Charities building when he was gunned down. His body was draped in a blanket on the sidewalk leading to Stephen Hughes’ home.
“It looks like a guy carrying his groceries home from the store,” said Hughes, 66, who rushed home after receiving a frantic call about the shootings from a neighbour.
Jackson, 58, of Fresno, was gunned down in the parking lot of the charity’s building.
“These were unprovoked attacks,” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
Two Latina women and a child also crossed paths with Muhammad, who pointed the gun at them as they sat in their car trying to flee, but he did not shoot.
Muhammad, 39, was arrested shortly after the rampage. He is expected to be charged with four counts of murder — one each for Tuesday’s three victims and the security guard, 25-year-old Carl Williams.
Muhammad said seeing his name and picture Tuesday in a news release about the guard’s slaying morning helped spur the attacks in which he fired 16 rounds in less than two minutes.
The suspect told his family there was a war going on between blacks and whites in America. He posted on social media about black separatism, reparations, the “Black Lives Matter” movement and white devils.
On what appeared to be Muhammad’s Facebook page, he repeatedly posted “#LetBlackPeopleGo” and encouraged “black warriors” to “mount up.” A flurry of posts emerged in the past day.
Muhammad has a criminal history that includes arrests on weapons, drugs and false-imprisonment charges. He has also been accused of making terrorist threats and been associated with gangs, but he was not a confirmed member, police said.
Associated Press writers Kristin J. Bender and Janie Har in San Francisco and Mike Balsamo in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Scott Smith And Sophia Bollag, The Associated Press