(FRESNO, Calif.) — Police in Fresno, California revealed new details Wednesday on the “hate crime” shooting that killed three people in just minutes on Tuesday morning and what allegedly inspired the suspect to commit the murders.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said in a press conference Wednesday that suspect Kori Ali Muhammad — born Kori McDonald — was inspired to carry out the attack after learning on local news that he was the suspect of another murder at a local motel.
That’s when Muhammad — armed with a revolver — decided that he was going to kill as many white males as possible, Dyer said, adding that the Muhammad told investigators that he did not like white men. Muhammad has also written anti-government sentiments on social media as well as posts saying that he does not like white people, the police chief said Tuesday.
Around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Muhammad fired 17 shots in about three minutes, Dyer said.
During the shooting rampage, Muhammad fired several times at two Hispanic women in a car, but he stopped shooting once he realized they were Hispanic and let them go, Dyer said. Muhammad also fired at a group of men at a bus stop and chased after one man, who was the heaviest and oldest of the group. That man became his final victim, Dyer said.
Muhammad was arrested shortly after the shooting and has since given detectives several hours of interviews describing his actions, Dyer said. The suspect lead detectives through the murder scenes and explained to investigators what he did and why, laughing while he made the descriptions, Dyer said.
Muhammad was already wanted for allegedly murdering a Motel 6 security guard who was identified by Dyer Wednesday as 25-year-old Carl Williams. The murder occurred last week, Dyer said.
Muhammad fired at Williams because he said the security guard disrespected him, Dyer said.
Muhammad led investigators through the crime scene at the motel as well as the locations from Tuesday’s shootings, Dyer said.
Muhammad told detectives that he is Muslim but hadn’t been to mosque in 20 years and prays to numerous gods, Dyer said. The suspect also said that he had been practicing voodoo rituals and is not a terrorist or affiliated with any terror groups.
Dyer said that officers witnessed Muhammad yell “Allahu akbar” at the scene of the shooting. Dyer described Muhammad as a “racist” rather than a terrorist.
On Tuesday morning, Muhammad had gone to buy items to practice voodoo rituals when he went to Starbucks instead, Dyer said. While there, he used Stabucks’ Wi-Fi to watch a broadcast from ABC Fresno station KFSN, which identified him as a suspect in Williams’ murder.
Police were alerted to the scene Tuesday through ShotSpotter, a gunfire locator that detected multiple gunshots in the same vicinity, Dyer said Tuesday. Dyer played audio of the shots fired recorded by ShotSpotter during today’s press conference.
Muhammad did not run from Fresno police officers because he said he respected them, according to the police chief. Muhammad said he didn’t want police to be forced to shoot him and that he is not a coward.
Once he saw the officers on the scene, Muhammad got on the ground, Dyer said Tuesday.
Dyer identified the victims of Tuesday’s shooting, which included 37-year-old Mark Gassett, 58-year-old David Jackson and 34-year-old Pacific Gas and Electric Company worker Zachary Randalls. Dyer showed pictures of Randalls’ family photos with his children after identifying him.
Randalls was driven to police in a PG&E truck, Dyer said Tuesday.
It is unclear if McDonald has entered a plea or retained an attorney.
The gun has not been located after it was wrapped in clothing and picked up by someone on the scene, Dyer said, describing the man who took it as Hispanic.
Dyer asked for the man who took the gun to turn himself in immediately. The man fled from the scene after taking the gun, the police chief said.
Muhammad spoke to his mother Tuesday night after he was arrested, Dyer said.
During the rampage, Muhammad shot at a resident who he encountered in the neighborhood multiple times but missed, Dyer said Tuesday. He then shot and killed the man he encountered next.
Muhammad dropped shell casings and reloaded his gun before setting of to Catholic Charities on North Fulton Street in Fresno, where he shot and killed a man he encountered in the parking lot, Dyer said Tuesday.
Aaron Van Curen, who lives near Catholic Charities, said he didn’t believe what he was witnessing when he heard multiple gunshots. Gassett was killed near his home, Van Curen said. Once he saw that the shooter had left the scene, he went outside to feel for a pulse, and “there wasn’t one,” he said.
“He was obviously dead at that point…” Van Curen said, adding that he then waited for police to arrive.
Dyer said Tuesday night that he did not believe the murders were related to terrorism and that the shootings were “solely based on race.”
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