Police are saying that a deadly incident on Tuesday in Fresno, California, in which a man shot and killed three people, and later shouted “Allahu Akhbar” (“God is great” in Arabic), was racially rather than religiously motivated.
Authorities believe the suspect, 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, was on a mission to purportedly kill as many white individuals as possible, with police saying that Muhammad later told them he has intense disdain for Caucasians, The Daily Mail reported.
The assailant reportedly targeted three white men whom he did not know and who had no associations with one another. And, according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, the crime had “nothing to do with terrorism in spite of the statement he made” and was “solely based on race,” the Associated Press reported.
Join me in praying for the families of 3 shooting victims killed in cold blood in Fresno today by a gunman who shouted "Allahu Akhbar."
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) April 18, 2017
In the course of less than two minutes, The Los Angeles Times said that Muhammad gunned down the victims, killing the third person in the parking lot of a local Catholic Charities, though reports claim the location was not an intentional target based on anti-Christian sentiment.
“These individuals who were chosen today did not do anything to deserve what they got,” Dyer said of the attacks, which unfolded at 10:45 a.m. Pacific time. “These were unprovoked attacks by an individual that was intent on carrying out homicides today. He did that.”
Muhammad — who previously went by the name Cory (or Kori) Taylor — reportedly told family members that he believed there was a war brewing between whites and blacks, and called white people “devils” on social media; in a rap album he released earlier this year he also is said to have used racial language. Dyer described the assailant as “an individual that is filled with hate, filled with anger.”
Muhammad’s father, Vincent Taylor, expressed relief that his son was captured.
— Chris Stewart (@CStewartWPTV) April 19, 2017
“I’m happy he was arrested,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I would hope that whatever Kori tells [police,] they take him seriously and they start following up.”
The suspect is also being investigated in the unrelated death of a hotel security guard. He reportedly has a criminal and mental health history, including claims he has suffered from “auditory hallucinations” and has undergone at least two prior mental health hospitalizations, according to court documents reviewed by the AP.
Fresno Mayor Lee Brand released the statement in the aftermath of the attack on Tuesday, calling it a “sad day” and offering his “thoughts and prayers” to the victims’ families.
“None of us can imagine what they must be going through. I am grateful for the quick and decisive response of our Police Department in preventing further senseless violence,” he said. “If there were ways to prevent tragedies like this in the future, I would not hesitate in using them. Again, my heart goes out to the families that lost loved ones today.”
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