An arrest has been made. The African American shooter is charged with killing three (four?) people (all white males from 36 to 58 years old) as well as two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
Even though the killer – Kori Ali Muhammad, 39 – shouted “Allahu Akbar” (which means “God is great” in Arabic) while he was being arrested, an association with Islamic extremism / terrorism is not suspected. (The imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, Sayed Ali Ghazvini, stated that Muhammad is not a member of the congregation and is unknown to the local Islamic community.) The killings appear to be racially-motivated hate crimes.
The Fresno Police Department suspects that Muhammad’s first victim was a 25-year-old Motel 6 security guard. When Muhammad realized that he is being pursued by authorities as a suspect in the murder, he decided to kill as many white men as he could. He was firing at people in four different locations of downtown Fresno. One of the victims was a passenger in a Pacific Gas & Energy truck, an employee in training. Two other victims were gunned down at a bus stop near Catholic Charities and possibly beneficiaries of the charity which serves the disabled, the homeless and others in need of assistance. (The downtown Fresno killings took place within 90 seconds!) It isn’t clear at this time who is – is being considered – the fourth victim: a person who wasn’t described by the Fresno police yet, or the 25 year old security guard who worked for Motel 6.
All four killings appear to be random. All of them are tragedies. None of the victims has known – or provoked – the gunman. The killings are senseless.
Out of the tragedy and the reports that followed emerge several contradictory profiles of the killer, Kori Ali Muhammad.
1/ According to authorities, Muhammad was homeless at the time when the killing spree took place. He has an extensive criminal record and a history of mental illness. Muhammad social media history indicates his hatred toward white people and is filled with calls to militant action against them.
2/ Muhammad’s family shared that he changed his name from Kori Taylor to Kori Ali Muhammad; that he was “troubled” (mentally unstable) most of his life and appeared to have suffered some sort of a mental breakdown shortly before killing four innocent people in Fresno.
3/ A casual acquaintance with whom he attended Community Media Access Collaborative in Fresno was shocked that the man who was well-liked and espoused constructive views at the time of their acquaintance would be capable of killing people in cold blood.
Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine and its editors stand united in grief with families of the victims. Like anyone else we too condemn racial hatred, hate crimes and senseless killing of innocent people.
It is difficult not to draw parallels between the Fresno killings and another recent killing, the killing of 74 year old Robert Godwin Sr. in Cleveland, PA. (In the latter case, both the victim and the gunman were black and apparently didn’t know each other.) The Pennsylvania killer, Steve W. Stephens (37), actually recorded his crime and streamed it live on Facebook. He never bothered concealing his tracks, evidence, etc. Recognized by a fast-food worker who reported his whereabouts to authorities, the killer attempted to flee and eventually committed suicide just moments before being apprehended.
None of the killings – and neither killer’s behavior – makes sense. They seem to be the acts of severely disturbed individuals. A large segment of the African American community is underserved, underemployed and poorly educated. It would appear that both murderers may have suffered from mental illness which has been either not recognized or ignored by their families. Since the acts were so heinous, highly visible and neither killer made an attempt to conceal them or their own identity, the killings may have been expressions of despicable characters of the perpetrators OR actions of mentally ill individuals. Both killers displayed alarmingly disturbing behavior before the killings and yet, no one was alarmed and no one summoned help. The result? Five innocent people killed, five families devastated. One suicide. One killer in custody. Could these tragedies have been prevented?
Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich