FRESNO, Calif. - Three people are dead in a shooting spree in downtown Fresno on Tuesday, and the suspect was wanted in connection to the Motel 6 killing last week, the Fresno Police Department said.
Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, shouted "Allahu Akbar" as police tackled him to the ground after the shootings which were spread over four locations, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
The victims appeared to be random, Dyer said.
"These individuals that were chosen today did not anything to deserve what they got," Dyer said. "These were unprovoked attacks."
Shot Spotter detected the first gunshots around 10:45 a.m. Muhammad shot into a Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) vehicle killing the passenger. The driver sped away and drove to Fresno Police headquarters.
The chief said Muhammad was armed with a 357 revolver when he opened fire on his first victim, who was sitting inside the PG&E vehicle.
Muhammad continued walking and opened fire at a resident but missed. Shortly after, he encountered another resident and shot and killed that person, police said.
He then continued to the area of Catholic Charities where he shot and killed a person in the parking lot, police said. Shortly after, he was apprehended without police firing a shot.
"All sixteen of these rounds were fired in less than a minute within four different locations," Dyer said.
Officers responded within one minute of the first shots.
Muhammad used a social media account -- in part -- to perpetuate an anti-white agenda.
Dyer said the men who were killed are believed to have had no connection to Muhammad. Dyer also said it was too early to tell whether terrorism was a factor.
The Islamic Cultural Center in Fresno released a statement condemning the shootings:
Today, violence hits us close to home.
A man, who claimed to follow our faith of peace and compassion, committed terrible acts of violence in downtown Fresno.
We pray for the victims, their families and friends and the organizations targeted.
The phrase Allahu Akbar, or God is Great, is a prayer of peace for 1.8 billion Muslims around the world. It is a recognition of our role as a part in the creation of the Most Merciful God and our duty to see ourselves humbly in relation to God as just a part in the creation. When someone utters these beautiful words and commits violent acts, it brings pain to our community and crushes our hearts.
We condemn the acts of this criminal in the strongest terms and we stand with our community and city in support and brotherhood. Additionally, today's crime represents nothing to do with our faith, our community, our center or our people.
We call upon our law enforcement agencies and officials to properly investigate the motives of this man and hold him accountable accordingly.
Again, we lift in our prayers the victims and their families, and pray that our community rises above correlating these acts with our faith.
Fresno Mayor Lee Brand also sent out a statement following the shooting:
This is a sad day for us all. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims. 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.
PG&E sent out the following statement:
Our hearts are very heavy today, as we have lost a member of our PG&E family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our employee, and all those impacted by this tragic event.
Public and employee safety is always our top priority. While we focus on safety every day, no training or protective equipment can prepare one for events outside of one’s control.
We are cooperating with law enforcement authorities as they investigate the incident.
This loss is particularly difficult for our employees who live and work in the Fresno area. We are sending additional resources to support our employees in the Central Valley.
Valley Rep. Jim Costa released the follwoing statement:
Today’s horrific shooting incident in downtown Fresno was a senseless act of violence. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The Fresno Police Department and other first responders put their own lives at risk every day to help keep our community safe, and we will never be able to thank them enough.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a statement on the shooting:
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by the shooting in Fresno. Thank you to the first responders who leapt to action and quickly gained control over the situation. I will continue to follow the investigation closely. The California Department of Justice has offered its full support and law enforcement resources to the people of Fresno.
KSEE24 and CBS47 reporter Gregory Woods was inside the police station when the PG&E truck arrived.
"I was inside the police station waiting for an interview when an officer yelled there was a shooting and ran outside," Woods said.
Catrina Tapia works downtown. She said it's an area that's become unsafe.
"You just never know what's going to happen. It's not safe anymore -- even though you are near the police station."
As the ambulance arrived on scene to tend to the person who was dead in the PG&E vehicle, Tapia sent her prayers to all the victims in the shooting.
"My heart goes out to the family this is so so unacceptable. It's really sad."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation will assist in the case.
"I'm certain they are going to be very interested in this case," Dyer said.
Last week, a security guard at Motel 6 on Blackstone Avenue was shot and killed. Police later identified Muhammad as the suspect in that case.
Dyer said Muhammad is being charged with four counts of murder.