Kori Ali Muhammad (born c. 1978) was identified as the prime suspect in all of the shootings. He was homeless at the time, and had some association with gangs, but wasn't a member of one himself.
Personal backgroundPreviously known as Kori Taylor or Cory Taylor, Muhammad changed his name to his present one as a teenager.
Muhammad was a resident of both Fresno and Sacramento, California. According to Muhammad's Facebook page, he studied multimedia at Consumnes River College in Sacramento. A spokesman for the Los Rios Community College District identified a student named Kori McWallace—with the same date of birth as Muhammad—who attended Consumnes, American River College, and Sacramento City College at various times from 1996 to 2004. However, no details were immediately offered about his studies or if he graduated.
Muhammad had a criminal history dated from 1997 to 2004, consisting of arrests on weapons, drugs, forgery, and false imprisonment charges, as well as making terrorist threats. Court documents also indicated that he "suffered auditory hallucinations and had at least two prior mental health hospitalizations." According to court records filed in February 2005, he was arrested and indicted in federal court on charges of "possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm for drug trafficking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon". In September, Muhammad sought an insanity defense and underwent a psychiatric evaluation after his lawyer claimed his client was "suffering from hallucinations, paranoia and psychosis." A judge ruled that he was incompetent to stand trial and had him committed to a facility for up to four months. He was deemed competent in August 2006, after which he pleaded guilty to two of seven counts in the indictment. Muhammad was sentenced to over nine years in prison, though the sentence was downgraded to over seven years in 2008. He was released from prison early in September 2016.
An imam at a local mosque said that Muhammad was not a member of his congregation.
Views and statementsMuhammad maintained two Facebook profiles and a Twitter account, all in which he paid homage to black pride and black nationalism. His profile depicted images of a Black Power salute and a flag associated with the Pan-Africanism movement. According to police, he "expressed hatred of whites" and the government. Muhammad made posts about the murders of five Dallas police officers, in which he praised the shooter Micah Xavier Johnson. Muhammad's father described his son's belief that there was an ongoing war between whites and blacks, and that "a battle was about to take place."
According to The Daily Beast, Muhammad's posts indicated a support of the Moorish Science Temple of America, an African American organization associated with the sovereign citizen movement, which advocated beliefs similar to those of mainstream Islam. Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said that Muhammad's posts made multiple references to terms used by the Nation of Islam, a black supremacist organization labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In February, Muhammad released two hip-hop albums on iTunes and YouTube under the name of B-God MacSun. The Los Angeles Times noted that Muhammad sung that he was an "Asiatic black god", and that the album's contents "repeatedly references violence between black and white people." In addition, Muhammad produced a music-themed talk show at the Community Media Access Collaborative, a nonprofit organization specializing in promoting people and companies through the use of media. Muhammad's talk show ran for four episodes, which were produced between May 12, 2015, and October 10, 2016. The organization's director of operations described Muhammad, a frequenter at the facility, as "kind and curious" to the staff.
Motel 6 shootingAt about 11:00 p.m. on April 14, a security guard working at a Motel 6 in central Fresno observed a man visiting a woman who had checked into one of the rooms. Since motel policy mandated all visitors to provide identification at the office, the guard went to the room to inform the pair of this. As the guard was escorting the two to the motel office, an argument erupted between them. The man then pulled out a handgun and fired multiple rounds, killing the guard. He also fired several shots toward the motel before fleeing. On April 18, Fresno police identified one suspect in the shooting, 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad (see below).
Downtown Fresno shootingsHours after the identification, several shootings were reported in downtown Fresno. The gunman first approached a Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) utility truck at about 10:45 a.m. and fired several shots into it, critically wounding an employee seated in the passenger seat. The driver of that truck managed to drive away unharmed, and took the passenger to the Fresno Police Department headquarters, where he alerted officers. The passenger was taken to Community Regional Medical Center, where he later died.
Seconds after shooting into the PG&E truck, the gunman shot at a civilian, but missed. He then turned onto another street, where he shot and killed a man. After reloading at a bus stop, the gunman entered the parking lot of a Catholic Charities USA building, where he shot and killed another man. Witnesses said that the gunman cursed as he fired. At some point, in-between shootings, the gunman approached a vehicle with two women and a child inside, but spared them because they were Latino.
Officers responding to shotspotter reports found Muhammad running down the street, and managed to arrest him. During the arrest, Muhammad shouted, "Allahu Akbar!" Several bullets and speedloaders for a .357 Magnum revolver were recovered from his person, but no firearm was found. According to Chief Jerry Dyer, a total of sixteen shots were fired in 90 seconds during these shootings. Several streets and county government buildings were put on lockdown during the shootings, with people being ordered to shelter in place.
The FBI and ATF were notified of the shootings. Agents from the Department of Homeland Security also responded to the Fresno Police Department headquarters. Chief Dyer said that the incident was "a random act of violence" and that the gunman acted alone, adding that it was "too soon" to determine whether the shootings were acts of terrorism. A federal law enforcement official said the shootings did not bear the hallmarks of a terrorist attack and appeared to be more of a "local, criminal matter". Local authorities said they will investigate the shootings as a hate crime, with Chief Dyer saying that the suspect, who is black, told police he decided to become infamous for killing many white people after realizing he was wanted in the Motel 6 shooting.