Shortly before he killed self, Steve Stephens ordered 20 nuggets and fries at drive-through window, workers said.
Pennsylvania State Police say they will hold a news conference on the Steve Stephens case at 3:30 p.m. at Troop E barracks in Lawrence Park.
Steve Stephens’ taste for McDonald’s helped the Pennsylvania State Police catch the accused Facebook killer in Erie.
Employees at the McDonald’s on Buffalo Road, in Harborcreek Township, said a drive-through attendant alerted state police when Stephens stopped at the restaurant’s drive-through window shortly after 11 a.m.
The McDonald’s is about five miles east of where state police stopped Stephens in Erie.
Thomas DuCharme Jr., owner and operator of the McDonald’s, said the attendant thought she recognized Stephens. DuCharme said the attendant then called state police.
DuCharme said Stephens ordered 20 chicken nuggets and a basket of fries, but that the workers held off on delivering the fries to delay Stephens. He said Stephens got the nuggets.
“We told him his fries were going to be a minute,” said Henry Sayers, the restaurant’s manager.
Said DuCharme: “I am pretty sure he figured out that we were on to him. He didn’t want to wait for his fries.”
He said Stephens then drove away without the fries.
Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook pronounced Stephens dead at the scene at 11:35 a.m. Investigators are getting search warrants for the car and are waiting on the arrival of a state police accident reconstruction team later this afternoon.
Cook said his office would conduct an autopsy at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
Three state police cruisers involved in the stop of Stephens’ car remained at the scene, along with Stephens’ car.
Warren Harris, 64, of Erie, who is on the scene of the investigation, said he had lived near Steve Stephens and his family in Beachwood, Ohio.
Harris, who said he has lived in Erie for 12 years, said the family is “good, churchgoing family.” He said that today’s events did not surprise him because “incidents like this happen where I’m from.”
A spokeswoman at Stephens’ employer told the Erie Times-News in a telephone interview on Tuesday afternoon that employees there learned quickly of Stephens’ death in Erie via news reports.
“It’s just been a tragic situation, on every front, with this story,” said Nancy Kortemeyer, senior director of marketing and public relations at Beech Brook, located in northeast Ohio.
Beech Brook is a behavioral health organization serving children, teenagers and families.
According to a statement Beech Brook officials posted on its website, Stephens worked there since 2008, most recently as a vocational specialist for youth and young adults. Prior to that, Stephens had been a youth mentor.
Stephens had no major disciplinary actions at Beech Brook, Kortemeyer said, and there was nothing in his work history “that would have been a red flag.”
The manhunt for Stephens has been “very much a strain and a worry” for the Beech Brook staff, Kortemeyer said.
“We’ve been worried about the safety of our staff and our clients,” Kortemeyer said. “We are just relieved the situation has been resolved without any further harm to anyone else.
Kortemeyer added, “It’s so sad that Steve Stephens took his own life. We don’t know what would have caused him to do this.”
Beech Brook issued a statement regarding Stephens’ death later Tuesday on its website:
“It was with a mixture of sadness and relief that Beech Brook learned of the suicide of Steve Stephens. Every suicide is a tragedy, but we also share a sense of relief with the rest of our community because we are no longer fearful that Mr. Stephens will take more lives.
“We are deeply grateful to the law enforcement officials who vigorously pursued this case. Our thoughts are with all of those impacted by these senseless acts of violence.”
From Pennsylvania State Police, or PSP, in a news release:
” ‘Facebook Killer’ Steve Stephens was spotted just after 11 a.m. by an alert citizen near the intersection of Buffalo Road and Downing Avenue in Erie County, Pennsylvania, which is less than two miles from PSP Troop E headquarters.
“PSP troopers immediately began to canvas the area for Stephens and located him in his vehicle a short time later. Troopers in marked patrol units initiated a pursuit that lasted approximately two miles.
“The troopers attempted a PIT maneuver to disable Stephens’ vehicle, a white Ford Fusion. As the vehicle was spinning out of control from the PIT maneuver, Stephens pulled a pistol and shot himself in the head.”
Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have arrived on scene. The FBI arrived earlier and agents are still on scene.
From a news conference in Cleveland at about 12:15 p.m.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said he had no information on why Steven Stephens was in Erie.
“We are taking a cautious approach,” he said. “There may be connections we don’t know about. There is still a lot we don’t know.”
Chief acknowledged that their federal partners had spent time searching Erie and the surrounding area.
Anyone who knows that area, he said, knows “there are a lot of places to hide.”
The press conference was held less than an hour after Stephens took his own life. At that early point, “We have spoken with all the families involved. They had all been notified,” Williams said.
Williams said at the news conference that he had few details: “Our investigators are on their way now,” he said.
Another officer who spokes at the news conference, but whose name was not available, said: “We had hoped to bring Steve in peacefully and talk to him about what happened.”
The same police officials said: “Kudos to Pennsylvania State Police for doing an outstanding job.”
Asked if he was worried about potential copycats who might commit their own crimes and post them to social media, Chief Williams shook his head no.
“We’re not putting that energy out there,” he said. “We’ve talked about people not living their lives on social media. This is something that should never have been shared on social media, period.”
Chief Williams said police followed up on about 400 leads across the country, but it was one particular tip that led police to Stephens.
“We are grateful to the people who gave this tip to Pennsylvania State Police,” he said.
State police commanders have left the scene. Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook had been examining the body of Steve Stephens inside the white Ford Fusion, where police said he fatally shot himself after state police pulled him over at around 11:10 a.m.
Spectators at the scene of an investigation of Steve Stephens’ apparent suicide in Erie, many streaming video of the scene from their smartphones, were glad the manhunt for the accused Cleveland Facebook killer was over. They said they’d been worried about the safety of local children after first hearing Stephens might be in Erie.
Erie police have confirmed the suicide in Erie on Tuesday of Steve Stephens, the Cleveland resident suspected of fatally shooting a Cleveland man on Sunday and posting video of the slaying on Facebook.
Stephens died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while driving a white Ford Fusion near Buffalo Road and Downing Avenue around 11:10 a.m., police said.
State police were following the car as it headed west into Erie after leaving a nearby McDonald’s, police said.
The car, pointed west, is stopped in the westbound lane of Buffalo Road, across from the former Burton Elementary School, 1660 Buffalo Road. Police are blocking off the entire school grounds.
Erie police are also at the scene, with Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook and the FBI and Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri.
Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott said early Tuesday afternoon that he did not have much information about the incident, but he expected to be briefed later in the day by Police Chief Don Dacus.
“Obviously when you’ve got a fugitive out there, you’re pleased to see it come to some quick resolution,” Sinnott said.
Latest Crime Statistics Released
Increase in Violent Crime, Decrease in Property Crime
Today, the FBI released its annual compilation of crimes reported to its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program by law enforcement agencies from around the nation. Crime in the United States, 2015 reveals a 3.9 percent increase in the estimated number of violent crimes and a 2.6 percent decrease in the estimated number of property crimes last year when compared to 2014 data.
According to the report, there were an estimated 1,197,704 violent crimes committed around the nation. While that was an increase from 2014 figures, the 2015 violent crime total was 0.7 percent lower than the 2011 level and 16.5 percent below the 2006 level.
Among some of the other statistics contained in Crime in the United States, 2015:
- The estimated number of murders in the nation was 15,696.
- During the year, there were an estimated 90,185 rapes. (This figure currently reflects UCR’s legacy definition. Learn more about the revised rape definition.)
- There were an estimated 327,374 robberies nationwide, which accounted for an estimated $390 million in losses (average dollar value of stolen property per reported robbery was $1,190).
- Firearms were used in 71.5 percent of the nation’s murders, 40.8 percent of robberies, and 24.2 percent of aggravated assaults.
- Property crimes resulted in losses estimated at $14.3 billion. The total value of reported stolen property (i.e., currency, jewelry, motor vehicles, electronics, firearms) was $12,420,364,454.
In addition to national crime data, the publication also contains agency-level data, regional data, state totals, data from cities and counties grouped by populations, and statistics from certain metropolitan areas.
Crime in the United States, 2015 also features several smaller reports:
- Federal Crime Data, the second report from UCR looking at crime reporting from federal agencies, includes 2015 data from FBI and ATF cases as well as traditional offense information from other federal agencies.
- Human Trafficking, the third report from UCR’s Human Trafficking data collection, includes general content about human trafficking as well as data provided by agencies that reported human trafficking offenses in 2015.
- Cargo Theft, the third report from UCR’s Cargo Theft data collection, contains general information about cargo theft and data provided by agencies that reported cargo theft violations during 2015.
Also included in Crime in the United States, 2015 is a message from Director James Comey on FBI efforts to improve the collection, analysis, and uses of crime statistics and data about law enforcement’s use of force, primarily through its ongoing shift to the more detailed National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and a use-of-force database. Both, he said, will “give us a more complete, richer picture of crime in our communities, and a national and detailed picture of the ways we in law enforcement are using force.”
According to Comey, who cited the need for more transparency and accountability in law enforcement, “Information that is accurate, reliable, complete, and timely will help all of us learn where we have problems and how to get better.”
Expanded offense data are the details of the various offenses that the Uniform Crime Reporting Program collects beyond the count of how many crimes law enforcement agencies report. These details may include the type of weapon used in a crime, type or value of items stolen, and so forth. For example, expanded homicide data provide supplemental details about murders, such as the age, sex, race, and ethnicity of both the victim and the offender, the weapon used in the homicide, the circumstances surrounding the offense, and the relationship of the victim to the offender. In addition to these types of details, expanded data include trends (for example, 2-year comparisons) and crime rates per 100,000 inhabitants.
Expanded offense data, including expanded homicide data, are details collected in addition to the reports of the number of crimes known. As a result, law enforcement agencies can report an offense without providing the supplemental information about that offense.
Expanded data by offense
Expanded Homicide Data Tables
- Victim data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, and 13
- Offender data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 3, 4, 5, and 6
- Victim/offender relationship data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 4, 5, and 6
- Circumstance data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 10, 11, 12, and 13
- Weapons: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 15, and Table 20
- Justifiable Homicide data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 14 and 15
Motor vehicle theft
- Trends (2-year): Tables 12, 13, 14, and 15
- Rates (per 100,000 inhabitants): Arson Table 1
- Type of property: Arson Table 2 and Table 15
Story 2: Breaking — Racist Black Muslim Kori Ali Muhammad,39, aka Black Jesus Kills Three Shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) — Pop, Bang, Boom — Camera Moves — Shot Spotter — Red Dot — Digital Justice — Videos —
Fresno shooting 4-18-17 Kori Ali Muhammad screaming Ali Akbar!
Fresno Shooting Suspect Identified – Kori Ali Muhammad AKA Black Jesus
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SST – ShotSpotter Overview
ShotSpotter is a family of acoustic gunshot detection, alert and analysis solutions developed by SST Inc. Gunshot data has a trickle-down effect that can provide immense value. Watch the video to learn how our real-time data helps law enforcement respond more intelligently and make communities safer. It is our mission and honor to serve our communities and their respective law enforcement agencies.
Three people were shot to death in less than a minute at separate locations Tuesday in Fresno, California, authorities said. A fugitive wanted in a previous homicide was arrested at the scene.
The man, identified as Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, who investigators said used the alias “Black Jesus,” was arrested and was being held awaiting at least four counts of murder, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters.In addition to the three people who were killed Tuesday, Muhammad had been wanted in connection with the shooting death of a security guard at a Motel 6 last Thursday, Dyer said.
At least 16 rounds were fired in less than a minute at four locations, including a Catholic Charities facility, where the gunman killed a man in the parking lot, Dyer said. None of the victims worked at the charity, he said.
While police said the gunman yelled “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) during the incident, it was too early to say whether terrorism was a factor, Dyer said.
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Kori Ali Muhammad told his family there was a war going on between blacks and whites in America.
On social media, he referred to white people as “devils.” Earlier in the year, he posted a rap album on YouTube replete with violent, explicit, racially-charged lyrics, including referring to himself in one song as a “black soldier.”
Local authorities said they don’t believe the attack was an act of terrorism but are investigating it as a hate crime.
“If in fact he’s lashing out at white people — white males in this case — that would constitute a hate crime,” Dyer said. “We believe it is a hate crime, definitely a hate crime.”
The chief said investigators don’t believe Muhammad worked with anyone else in the attack, calling him “an individual that is filled with hate, filled with anger.”
The attack occurred over less than two minutes with Muhammad firing a total of 16 shots. Dyer said he surrendered to a responding officer without incident and later apologized to the chief.
In addition to Tuesday’s killings, police said Muhammad was suspected in the fatal shooting of a security guard, also a white male, last week.
Muhammad’s father, Vincent Taylor, told The Times on Tuesday that his son believed that he was part of an ongoing war between whites and blacks, and that “a battle was about to take place.”
The attack began at around 10:45 a.m. in the 300 block of North Van Ness Avenue. Within a few seconds, a second burst of gunfire was heard, then a third and a fourth. Sixteen rounds were fired in four locations, Dyer said.
After the shots were heard, Dyer said the driver of a PG&E truck arrived at the city’s police headquarters to report that a passenger had been shot by a gunman who had approached them on foot.
After firing at the truck passenger, Muhammad walked west on East Mildreda Avenue, where he came across a resident and opened fire, Dyer said, but missed his target.
Muhammad then continued walking on Mildreda and approached Fulton Street, where he fatally shot another man before reloading his weapon, Dyer said.
He then headed toward Catholic Charities in the 100 block of North Fulton Street and fired a second fatal volley of gunfire, killing a man in the parking lot.
An officer in the area spotted the gunman running south on Fulton. He then “dove onto the ground” and was taken into custody, the chief said.
“As he was taken into custody, he yelled out, ‘Allahu akbar,’ ” Dyer said.
“Allahu akbar” roughly translates to “God is great” in Arabic and is a common positive refrain uttered by Muslims in prayer or in celebration. But the phrase has also been linked to terrorist attacks. The gunman who killed 13 people in a terror attack at Fort Hood, Texas, screamed “Allahu akbar” as he opened fire in 2009, and the phrase is often tweeted by social media accounts sympathetic to Islamic State and other terror groups.
The victims in Tuesday’s attack were not immediately identified. In a statement released last week, Fresno police said Muhammad was believed to have shot and killed Carl Williams, an unarmed 25-year-old security guard, outside of a Motel 6 on North Blackstone Avenue on Thursday.
Muhammad did not make any references to race during last week’s attack, according to Dyer, who said investigators will need time to determine the exact motive in the shootings.
“There was no statement made on Thursday night when he shot the security guard and killed him,” Dyer said. “There was no comments or no statements made at that time, so I am not certain why he said what he said today.”
Muhammad legally changed his name from Kori Taylor when he was a teenager, according to his grandmother, Glenestene Taylor, who said Muhammad was acting strangely when he visited her Sunday. He was crying, but she believed he was simply going out of town.
“I thought that’s why he’s upset, because he thinks of me as a mother,” said Taylor, 81. “He’s always telling me, ‘I’ll take care of it. I’ll protect you. Don’t you worry about it.’ He really didn’t want to go but he was going.”
A Facebook profile page for a Kori Ali Muhammad from Fresno paid homage to black pride and black nationalism, with images of the red, green and black Pan-African flag and a raised fist.
The rambling profile includes militant and apocalyptic language and repeated demands to “let black people go.” He referenced “white devils” and praised melanoma skin cancer.
On Saturday afternoon, Muhammad posted a photo of himself in a colorful garment, with his head covered, and the words: “LET BLACK PEOPLE GO OR THE DOOM INCREASES REPARATIONS & SEPARATION NOW.”
On Monday he wrote: “MY KILL RATE INCRESASES TREMENDOUSLY ON THE OTHER SIDE ASÈ ALLAH U AKBAR.”
Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said many of Muhammad’s social media postings make reference to terms used by the Nation of Islam, which has been labeled a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Pointing to Muhammad’s repeated references to “white devils” and “Yakub” — the villainous figure responsible for creating white people, according to Nation of Islam lore — Levin said it is likely Muhammad thought he was taking part in a race war against whites.
“We’re living in an era of violent reciprocal prejudice, and there are references on his website to Fard Muhammad, the founder of Nation of Islam, and Nation of Islam uses the term white devils quite prolifically, as did this shooter,” Levin said.
Muhammad also repeatedly used the phrase “Black Dragon Lion Hawk” in his Facebook posts, and Levin said such nods to warrior culture are also common in black separatist circles.
But Glenestene Taylor said she didn’t remember her grandson showing a racial bias, toward whites or anyone else, in all his years staying with her or during countless visits to her predominately white Fresno neighborhood.
“He would say something derogatory about anybody, didn’t matter about the color,” she said. “If he didn’t like what they did, he didn’t like what they did no matter the color.”
Muhammad had run afoul of Fresno police before. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2005 for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm for drug trafficking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, after a Fresno police officer searched his car and found two large bags of cocaine, a loaded handgun and two rifles, court records show. A federal judge later declared Muhammad mentally incompetent to stand trial.
He was deemed competent in August 2006 and pleaded guilty to the charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute and a weapons charge. He ultimately served 92 months in federal prison, records show.
Hours after the shootings Tuesday, two shaken workers at the Catholic charity said they had ducked under yellow police tape to get out.
They said they were told not to talk to the news media. But one, a Vietnam veteran, said a person never forgets the sound of guns. He said that the charity gives away food every day and that families are allowed to come only once a week.
“We feed a lot of children, so we have to make sure that the food gets spread around,” he said.
“This is a sad day for us all. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims,” Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said in a statement. “None of us can imagine what they must be going through.”
Vincent Taylor said he hopes his son’s capture headed off any future bloodshed.
“I’m happy he was arrested,” he said. “I would hope that whatever Kori tells [police,] they take him seriously and they start following up.”
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Three dead in central Fresno shooting spree; suspect caught, linked to Motel 6 slaying
Three people were shot and killed after a man went on a shooting spree Tuesday in Fresno, randomly shooting at four white men, killing three, before he was taken into custody, police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
The 39-year-old suspect, identified as Kori Ali Muhammad, is also suspected in the fatal shooting of a security guard outside a Motel 6 on Blackstone Avenue in central Fresno Thursday. He is facing four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, Dyer said. He said Muhammad had expressed dislike of whites in Facebook posts; all of the victims were white. Dyer called it a “random act of violence.”
Two of the people shot outside Catholic Charities, on Fulton Street just north of downtown, may have been clients of the social service agency, not employees, Dyer said. The third victim was a passenger in a Pacific Gas & Electric truck. A fourth man was shot at but not injured.
Dyer said the gunman walked up to a PG&E truck in the 300 block of North Van Ness Avenue about 10:45 a.m. and shot the passenger repeatedly. The driver of the pickup then sped to Fresno police headquarters on M Street. The second shooting was only a few seconds later and was at Van Ness and Mildreda Street, where the gunman shot at but missed a resident. The gunman then turned onto Fulton Street and fired several rounds at another man, striking and killing him, Dyer said. After reloading at a bus stop, the gunman then shot and killed a man in the parking lot of Catholic Charities in the 100 block of North Fulton Street, he said.
Officers responding to the initial shotspotter reports found Muhammad running south on Fulton. Muhammad dove to the ground and yelled “Ali Akbar” before he was taken into custody, Dyer said. Although police found rounds of .357 caliber bullets and speed loaders for a revolver when Muhammad was taken into custody, no weapon was found, Dyer said.
Dyer said that it’s too soon to determine if the shootings involved terrorism.
However, a review of Muhammad’s social media shows he quoted the phrase “Allahu Akbar” in a tweet. The Arabic phrase translates to “God is the greatest.”
The FBI and ATF have both been notified about Tuesday’s shootings, Dyer said. But Dyer noted that in Thursday’s shooting at Motel 6, which was caught on surveillance video, Muhammad did not make any similar statements. “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 identified early in the Motel 6 murder, based on the surveillance cameras, and officers had sought him in Madera and other locations in subsequent days. His Facebook page at one point indicated that he was in Atlanta, which was untrue, Dyer said. His Facebook posts indicated that “he does not like white people, and he has anti-government sentiments,” the chief said.
Witnesses reported the gunman sprayed rounds while reloading and cursing. One man was reportedly shot to death at the scene near Catholic Charities.
A second gunshot victim was reported outside of the the Fresno Police Department station at Mariposa Mall and M Street at 10:51 a.m. The victim also was taken to Community Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Dyer said.
Police are investigating at four separate crime scenes on Van Ness, Mildreda and Fulton, and those areas will remain closed for at least a few hours, Dyer said. At least one shooting victim remained on the scene, and officers with K-9 are searching for the murder weapon.
At 10:54 a.m., a report of a man down was reported at 215 N. Fulton St., about a block from Catholic Charities. That victim died at the scene, county Emergency Medical Services officials confirmed.
Fresno County government offices are on a lockdown alert. People have been urged to shelter in place. Homicide detectives were called to the shooting scenes. At least one agent from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was at the Fulton Street shooting scene, and agents from Homeland Security were outside Fresno police headquarters.
A witness who lives close to Catholic Charities who did not want to be identified, said he watched the chaos unfold from his front yard as the suspect, carrying a large-caliber revolver, shot a man repeatedly in a front yard on the west side Fulton Street north of Nevada Avenue. Then, he stopped and calmly ejected spent shell casings from the weapon and reloaded near a bus stop south of Nevada.
“The shells are still there,” the witness said, pointing them out.
The suspect then walked south on Fulton, where he opened fire on a man in the Catholic Charities parking lot, the witness said.A witness said the suspect carried a large-caliber handgun and shot a man repeatedly in a front yard on Fulton Street north of Nevada Avenue, then reloaded at a bus stop south of Nevada.
The suspect then shot a man in the Catholic Charities parking lot, the witness said.
“He didn’t look like a gang-banger or anything,” the witness said.
At Catholic Charities, about a dozen distraught people cried, moaned and hugged one another as several undercover police officers worked furiously to keep the shooting victim alive by pumping on his chest. Blood from the gunshot wounds flooded the ground nearby.
“It could have been me,” moaned one man. “I ran. He couldn’t get away,” he added, pointing to the victim as an ambulance sped toward the shooting, driving the wrong way up Fulton with siren blaring.
“Give us some room! Move back,” shouted a woman, apparently a worker at the charity, where people line up daily to seek food and necessities. It’s an area where misery and petty crime happen every day, but nothing like this.
Arriving police officers jumped from their cars, pushing everyone back and throwing up crime scene tape.
“Can we stay here?” asked a television reporter.
“No! You too,” shouted a plainclothes detective.
Teresa Dominguez, chancellor for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, said 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,” Dominguez said, “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.”
Imam Seyed Ali Ghazvini of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno said this attack is against the Muslim faith.
“We denounce and reject in the strongest words possible this kind of violence and attack,” Ghazvini said, “and we request law enforcement agencies investigate the reasons and motivations about the person himself. He’s not known in our community, and we are in touch with other communities to see if he was a member or not. At this time, we are collecting information to see who is this person. … We have a very active relationship with all branches of state and federal law enforcement agencies in the Valley to make them aware of possible extremism within our area.”
Ghazvini said the literal translation of “Allahu Akbar” means “God is the greatest.” It is used during prayers and “unfortunately the same term is being used in an evil manner by extremists and terrorists trying to give some kind of religious legitimacy to their acts – we strongly denounce this.
“We do use this term during our prayer and calls for prayer, and we use it to pray to God and ask for healing people and bringing peace … the way it is being used by extremist and violent people is actually against our faith and is a misrepresentation of the word.”
Last Updated Apr 18, 2017 5:00 PM EDT
FRESNO, Calif. — A man shot and killed three people on the streets of downtown Fresno on Tuesday, authorities said.
Suspect Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, shouted “Allahu Akbar” — meaning “God is great” in Arabic — as police tackled him to the ground after the shootings, which were spread over four locations, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, CBS affiliate KGPE-TV reports.
He later told police that he hates white people, according to authorities.
All three victims were white, police said, and the victims appeared to be random, according to Dyer.
The suspect had been wanted in connection to a killing last week, the Fresno Police Department said.
Shot Spotter detected the first gunshots around 10:45 a.m., according to KGPE. The suspect shot into a Pacific Gas & Energy vehicle, killing the passenger, the station reports, and Muhammad continued walking and opened fire at a local resident but missed.
KGPE said the suspect approached another resident and shot and killed that person.
Ashlee Wolf of Catholic Charities told the Fresno Bee newspaper that the final shooting took place at a bus stop near the charity.
Wolf said the charity doesn’t believe the shooter was tied to Catholic Charities. She says the charity is working with police to provide information.
Sayed Ali Ghazvini, imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, said Muhammad was not a member of his congregation and he did not recognize him. The imam said he is consulting with other faith leaders.
“We’re kind of shocked and surprised for what happened,” Ghazvini said. “We are very sorry for this to happen. We offer condolences for the victims, we pray for the victims and their families.”
Following the shooting, Fresno city spokesman Mark Standriff said county offices were placed on lockdown, and people were urged to shelter in place.