Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Fresno victims shot while heading home, on new job

Black gunman randomly kills because he ‘did not like white men,’ police say

- By Scott Smith and Sophia Bollag

Associated Press

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 charity center. The third was at a bus stop with a friend, waiting for a ride home.

All three were randomly shot dead by a black gunman, Kori Ali Muhammad, who wanted to kill as many white people as possible and was proud of what he had done, laughing as he explained his actions in interviews with police, authoritie­s said Wednesday.

“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,” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.

The men were at the wrong place at the wrong time Tuesday.

Zackary Randalls was the first to die when Muhammad, 39, walked up to a Pacific Gas & Electric truck and fired into the passenger seat. Mr. Randalls, 34, had just started work as a customer-service representa­tive and was doing a ridealong, something he was excited about, friend Eddie Valencia said. He described the father of two preschoole­rs as an open-minded person with a sharp wit and big heart.

“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.”

Muhammad also shot Mark Gassett, 37, of Fresno, who had just picked up groceries at a Catholic Charities building. The gunman pumped two more rounds into Mr. Gassett as he lay on the ground, police said.

Mr. Gassett’s ex-wife, Lisa Gassett, told The Fresno Bee that he had faced hard times, but had been working to improve his life. The couple has two children.

Next, Muhammad shot toward a bus stop where he had spotted three white men, police said. They scattered, and Muhammad picked the one who was older and appeared heavier: David Jackson, 58, of Fresno.

Mr. Jackson’s roommate said they were waiting for a bus home after going to the bank and then stopping to use the bathroom at Catholic Charities.

Mark Greer, 62, said Mr. Jackson tripped over a curb in the parking lot, falling down when he was shot. Mr. Greer was able to get away.

“I was too fast for him, but David couldn’t run that good,” he said.

Muhammad was arrested shortly after the rampage. He was expected to be charged with four counts of murder and arraigned Friday. Police say the shooter was candid in explaining the crimes that began Thursday night, when he killed another white man, a motel security guard, and culminated Tuesday, when he fired 16 rounds in less than two minutes and killed the three men on the same block.

Francine Williams, mother of security guard Carl Williams, 25, described her son as a kind and giving person who had recently gotten engaged.

Mr. Williams was a supervisor for Toys “R‘‘ Us who was at his second job at a Motel 6 when Muhammad shot him multiple times after an argument, police and the mother said. Muhammad told investigat­ors he felt disrespect­ed.

Francine Williams said Wednesday that she was in shock, but also at peace because she got to tell her son how much she loved him and how proud he made her a few days before his death. He told her he loved her, too.

Muhammad had a long criminal history and filled his social media feeds with posts about black separatism, reparation­s and “white devils.”

He told his family there was a war going on between blacks and whites in America.

He claimed insanity after being charged with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute in 2005, and his attorney requested a psychiatri­c examinatio­n, saying Muhammad “appeared eccentric with some bizarre beliefs.”

He had at least two prior mental health hospitaliz­ations, and his attorney said in court papers that Muhammad thought the justice system and his own lawyer were conspiring against him.

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