Three people were killed after a man went on a shooting spree in downtown Fresno, California on Tuesday while shouting “God is great” in Arabic before he was tackled and taken into custody, police said.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said officers took Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, into custody in connection to the shootings. Dyer said Muhammad went by the nickname “Black Jesus” and shouted “Allahu Akbar” as police tackled him to the ground.
Dyer said at a news conference Muhammad told police that he hates white people, and has made posts against white people and the government on his Facebook page. All of the victims of the shooting rampage on Tuesday were white men, according to police.
The shooting spree began around 10:45 a.m. local time, when one person was shot in a PG&E utility truck, a second person was shot on Fulton Street and a third person was shot in the parking lot of Catholic Charities, FOX 26 News reported.
All three shooting locations were close to each other in the downtown area. Around 16 shots were fired during the shooting spree, police said.
“What we know is that this was a random act of violence,” Dyer said. “There is every reason to believe he acted alone.”
Muhammad was already wanted in connection to the killing of an unarmed security guard at a Motel 6 last week, police said. He now faces four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, according to court records.
“Our thoughts are with all involved in the incident that occurred in Fresno today,” PG&E said in a statement. “Public and employee safety is always our top priority. We are still gathering information on what happened, and will work to support first responders and law enforcement in their efforts.”
Dyer said Fresno police have called the FBI to assist in the investigation. FBI officials told Fox News the agency is not treating the shooting as an incident of terror, but is sending agents to the scene at request of local police.
Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said it was “a sad day for us all” in a statement to FOX 26.
“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,” he said.
“If there were ways to prevent tragedies like this in the future, I would not hesitate in using them. Again, my heart goes out to the families that lost loved ones today.”
Muhammad made other statements to police, but Dyer did not disclose what they were.
The imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno told the Associated Press that Muhammad was not a member of his center.
Sayed Ali Ghazvini told the AP that he and other faith leaders are trying to identify gunman.
“We’re kind of shocked and surprised for what happened,” Ghazvini told the AP. “We are very sorry for this to happen. We offer condolences for the victims, we pray for the victims and their families.”
One of the shooting scenes happened outside a Catholic Charities building, but officials don’t believe the suspect was tied to the nonprofit organization.
Teresa Dominguez, chancellor for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, told the Fresno Bee the diocese is providing support for those who witnessed the shooting.
“The diocese will be present to the needs of all those serving as witnesses to this violent and traumatic event,” she told the newspaper, “such as counseling and pastoral care, and Bishop Ochoa asks for the prayer of all the faithful for the victims of this violent crime and their families, and that law enforcement will be successful in the their investigation in identifying the perpetrator.”
Following the shooting, Fresno city spokesman Mark Standriff said county offices were placed on lockdown, and people were urged to shelter in place.