WASHINGTON – Police in Fresno, Calif. are investigating the fatal shootings of three white men – allegedly by a black man who referred to white people as “devils” – as hate crimes.
Authorities said they don’t believe that Tuesday’s killings, which apparently were random, were acts of terrorism.
Before surrendering to police, Zori Muhammad allegedly shouted “Allahu akbar” – “God is greater” in Arabic – and expressed hatred toward white people and the government, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
Muhammad stalked the streets of downtown Fresno Tuesday morning, fatally shooting three white men with a .357 revolver, police said. He fired 16 shots in less than two minutes, police said.
Dyer said the attacks were unprovoked and “solely based on race.”
Muhammad also is a suspect in the fatal shooting of Carl Williams, a security guard at a Motel 6 in Fresno last week, police said. Williams, 25, was unarmed and was killed after allegedly getting into an altercation with Muhammad.
On social media, Muhammad referred to white people as “devils.” He released a rap album earlier this year filled with violent racially charged lyrics, calling himself in one song a “black soldier.”
Muhammad – born Cory Taylor – has a lengthy criminal record, including a dismissed felony charge of unlawful firearm possession in 2004.
He was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial in 2005 after a grand jury indicted him on cocaine and firearm possession charges.
Court documents in that case said he “suffered auditory hallucinations and had at least two prior mental health hospitalizations.”
But a federal judge declared Muhammad mentally fit in 2006 and he served nearly eight years in prison.