Kori Muhammad is a “calloused” racist who laughed while talking to police and his mother after admitting to fatally shooting three white men north of downtown Fresno on Tuesday, police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
“He’s not a terrorist, he is a racist, filled with hate,” Dyer said at a news conference. “He set out to kill as many as he could. He’s not going to kill anyone else.”
Muhammad told police that while he is a Muslim, he practices voodoo rituals.
When speaking to his mother Tuesday, Dyer said, Muhammad told her not to cry because “he is still alive, his magic is powerful, and then he started laughing.”
The .357 Magnum used to shoot three men on Tuesday is still missing, but police have video of the man who ran off with it, Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference Wednesday. The man, described as Hispanic, picked up the gun after suspect Kori Muhammad had wrapped it in clothes and set it down on Fulton Street.
The man then ran through nearby yards, emptied the gun of six shell casings in the backyard at 161 N. Yosemite Ave. and then took off running, Dyer said.
Dyer said the man needs to call Fresno police immediately at 559-287-6579 and turn the gun in.
The three men killed in Tuesday’s shooting rampage near downtown Fresno were identified Wednesday by the Fresno County Coroner as Zachary David Randalls, 34, of Clovis, Mark James Gassett, 37, of Fresno, and David Martin Jackson, 58, of Fresno.
Randalls was a Pacific Gas and Electric worker gunned down in a company pickup; he died at Community Regional Medical Center. Gassett was shot while walking north on Fulton Street, and Jackson was shot in the Catholic Charities parking lot on North Fulton Street, sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said.
Gassett’s ex-wife Lisa Gassett said the couple has two children, and that he is a Central High School graduate. She said he had fallen on hard times but had recently had been working to improve his lot. “He would give his shirt off his back for anybody,” she said. “That is the kind of guy he was.”
Randalls was on his first assignment in the field when Muhammad allegedly walked up to the work truck Randall was in at Mildreda and Van Ness and fired into it.
Dyer said Muhammad admitted to shooting the three men Tuesday, targeting them because they were white and shooting them as if he was on a game hunt. Muhammad also admitted to shooting the unarmed security guard at the Motel 6 on Thursday, saying that he felt Carl Williams had “disrespected him” during an argument when he was being asked to leave the motel.
Muhammad told police that after the Motel 6 shooting, he climbed to the roof of a nearby 7-11 store and hid there overnight, watching as detectives investigated the shooting scene. After police left, he climbed down and went to a nearby school and hid by a trash dumpster. He later took a bus to Herndon and Milburn avenues, where he stayed Friday through Sunday in a ravine, “practicing what he decribed as voodoo rituals,” Dyer said. Muhammad told police he worships seven gods.
After moving to an area to the west, Muhammad cut off his braids and set fire to them, remaining there until Tuesday morning. He went to the Tower District to buy crystals at the Brass Unicorn, but the store was closed, so he went to a nearby Starbucks, where he was able to access the Internet and learned he was wanted in the Motel 6 shooting, Dyer said.”
“He told our detectives last night, he was not going to go down for shooting a security guard for disrespecting him, but was going to kill as many white males as possible,” Dyer said. “He said he did not like white men, white people were responsible for keeping blacks down. They needed to have their own land with their own laws.”
Charges against Muhammad, who is accused of gunning down four people, including three in a harrowing shooting spree Tuesday, are expected to be brought Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court, officials said.
Muhammad, 39, was arrested after the three men were shot and killed in central Fresno and in a parking lot at Catholic Charities. Muhammad also is suspected in the shooting death Thursday of security guard Carl Allen Williams III at a Motel 6.
Fresno police are getting reports ready to present to the District Attorney’s Office. Once prosecutors gets the reports, charges should be filed Thursday, with an arraignment then set for Friday.
Kelly Lilles, executive director of Catholic Charities, said the charity is not doing anything different Wednesday except adding a couple more security guards, and that it plans to operate as usual going forward.
She said there has been an outpouring of support for Catholic Charities and that there was a long line of clients awaiting services as normal early this morning outside the charity at 149 N Fulton St.
Lilles confirmed Gassett was a client, and she said he was a veteran.
Phyllis Cervantes, 78, was among those who stopped by the growing memorial of flowers and candles outside Catholic Charities on Wednesday morning to say a prayer for the victims. She lives just a few houses away from the charity. As she saw the circle of candles and flowers on the sidewalk, she gasped, covered her mouth, and started to cry.
“I cry because every day – every day – is bad, bad,” she said, referring to crime in her neighborhood.
More information on the accused killer came to light Wednesday.
Muhammad is listed as a producer on several videos hosted by the Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC).
In one video, posted about two years ago, he discusses his past.
He was born in Fresno but raised in Sacramento, Muhammad said in the video.
“I started gangbanging at 9 years old in Sacramento,” he said. This came after his father had started smoking crack, he added.
Muhammad said he joined a small gang affiliated with the Crips in Sacramento, which is predominantly controlled by the rival Bloods street gang.
He began getting involved in the black liberation movement at 14, and he joined the Nation of Islam at 16, he said. He rose to the rank of lieutenant within the Nation and attended the Million Man March in 1995, when he would have been 17.
This story will be updated.
Staff writers Carmen George and Rory Appleton contributed to the story.