3 dead in Fresno dur­ing shoot­ing spree

Po­lice: As­sailant ap­par­ently chose ran­dom vic­tims

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY SCOTT SMITH AND SOPHIA BOLLAG

FRESNO, CALIF. | One man had just started a new job with the gas com­pany and was rid­ing in a util­ity truck. An­other was car­ry­ing a bag of gro­ceries af­ter stop­ping at a Catholic Char­i­ties cen­ter. The third man was in the char­ity’s park­ing lot.

All three were shot and killed at ran­dom, po­lice say, by a black gun­man who wanted to kill as many white peo­ple as pos­si­ble.

Zackary Ran­dalls was the first to die when, ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties, Kori Ali 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 Mr. Ran­dalls could not be saved.

Friend Ed­die Va­len­cia said Mr. 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,” Mr. 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 hap­pened to be on the same block at the same time, but had no known con­nec­tion to each other or to the shooter, who pur­port­edly told po­lice about his goal of killing white peo­ple af­ter he was ar­rested. He is ex­pected to be ar­raigned Fri­day.

Mark 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 Mr. Hughes, 66, who rushed home af­ter re­ceiv­ing a fran­tic call about the shoot­ings from a neigh­bor.

David 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 Mr. Muham­mad, who po­lice say pointed the gun at them as they sat in their car try­ing to flee, but he did not shoot. Mr. 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 plus the slay­ing last week of a white Mo­tel 6 se­cu­rity guard.

Po­lice had been look­ing for Mr. Muham­mad in the death of the guard, 25-year-old Carl Wil­liams. Mr. Muham­mad said see­ing his name and pic­ture in a news re­lease Tues­day morn­ing helped spur the at­tacks in which he fired 16 rounds in less than two min­utes at four places within a block.

“I did it. I shot them,” Mr. Muham­mad told of­fi­cers as they ar­rested him, ac­cord­ing to the chief.

Dur­ing the ar­rest, Mr. Muham­mad shouted “Al­lahu ak­bar,” the Mus­lim war cry mean­ing “God is great,” but the shoot­ings had “noth­ing to do with ter­ror­ism in spite of the state­ment he made,” Chief Dyer said.

“This is solely based on race,” he said. Mr. Muham­mad 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.

Mr. Muham­mad’s fa­ther, Vin­cent Tay­lor, told the Los An­ge­les Times that his son be­lieved he was part of an on­go­ing war be­tween whites and blacks and that “a bat­tle was about to take place.”

Po­lice were search­ing for the re­volver Mr. Muham­mad said he tossed into a pile of cloth­ing. The gun may have been picked up by some­one else, Chief Dyer said.

On what ap­peared to be Mr. Muham­mad’s Face­book page, he re­peat­edly posted “#LetBlack­Peo­pleGo” and en­cour­aged “black war­riors” to “mount up.” A flurry of posts emerged in the past day.

Mr. Muham­mad has a crim­i­nal his­tory that in­cludes ar­rests on weapons, drugs and false im­pris­on­ment charges and mak­ing ter­ror­ist threats. He had been as­so­ci­ated with gangs, but he was not a con­firmed mem­ber, po­lice said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A me­mo­rial of can­dles and flow­ers grows at the scene of Tues­day’s triple homi­cide shoot­ing near Catholic Char­i­ties in Fresno, Cal­i­for­nia. Dur­ing his ar­rest for the shoot­ings, sus­pect Kori Ali Muham­mad said he chose his three vic­tims “solely based on race.”

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