A jury in Fresno, California, has found Kori Ali Muhammad, 42, guilty of murdering Zackary David Randalls, 34, Mark James Gassett, 37, and David Martin Jackson, 58, on April 18, 2017. A week before, Muhammad murdered Carl Williams, who was only 25.
Muhammad encountered Williams at a Fresno Motel 6 and felt “disrespected,” so he killed the man, whom he did not know and had not previously met. When police sought him for the shooting, Muhammad planned to “kill as many white men” as he could before being caught. So he drove through downtown Fresno firing at his targets of choice.
When he walked up to a truck, Muhammad said in his confession, “I saw a Mexican driver and a white guy. I didn’t want to target the driver because he was Mexican, so I shot the white dude.” The “white dude” was Zachary Randalls, whom Muhammad did not know and, as with all four victims, targeted solely because of his skin shade.
Muhammad encountered Mark James Gassett emerging from a Catholic Charities USA building and gunned him down with a .357 magnum revolver, shooting the victim again after he fell to the ground. Gassett was the father of two boys, Layten, 9, and Troy, 14.
Muhammad also found David Jackson, 58 emerging from Catholic Charities and shot him dead with the powerful revolver, which he calmly reloaded.
Muhammad located Zachary Randalls in Pacific Gas and Electric truck and calmly shot him dead. When arrested, Muhammad proclaimed “Allahu Akbar” and raised his right fist when sworn in last month in a Fresno court.
“When you took aim at these individuals, you intended to kill all three of them didn’t you?” prosecutor Kelly Smith asked. “Yep,” Muhammad replied, “I kill them. Yes, he’s dead, so it happen,” adding, “God is going to destroy white men in particular, specifically.”
Smith asked Muhammad why he shot victim Mark James Gassett again when the victim was on the ground. “To kill him, just like the Coronavirus is killing white men right now,” Muhammad testified. Despite Muhammed’s open proclamation of a racial motive, the case was not described as a hate crime or terrorism.
Fresno police quickly identified Muhammad from surveillance video at the Motel 6, but waited five days until naming Muhammad as a suspect. As Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters, “We were exhausting some follow-up leads, some sightings, including one in Madera, and we also put out alerts to all officers and law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for him.”
Chief Dyer also described that the incident as “a random act of violence.” Imam Seyed Ali Ghazvini of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno told reporters, “We denounce and reject in the strongest words possible this kind of violence and attack.”
Kori Ali Muhammed was born Cory Allen Taylor and changed his name after converting to Islam as a teenager. In his social media posts, Muhammad made references to “grafted white devils,” as the Nation of Islam explains, created 6,000 years ago by the mad scientist “Yacub.” According to police, Muhammed also supported a separate country for all “non-white” residents of the United States.
Muhammed believed he was part of an ongoing war between whites and blacks, and that a battle would soon take place. Derek Bavin, a classmate at Fresno City College, said Muhammad would miss weeks of classes then accuse his instructors of being racist. He released hip-hop albums with repeated references to violence between blacks and whites.
Kori Ali Muhammad also boasts a long criminal history, with arrests for weapons, drugs, forgery and making terrorist threats. He was sentenced to seven years in 2008 and released early in 2016.
In his 2017 Fresno murder spree, Muhammed fired 16 shots at four different locations. He targeted white males and during his trial never denied killing the men, nor his reason for doing so. News reports of the verdict made no mention of a hate crime. The strongest comment came from Mark Gassett’s stepsister Stephanie Rodriguez. “The hate needs to stop,” she said, “the racism needs to stop.”
The murder conviction did not prompt a statement from attorney general Xavier Becerra or Gov. Gavin Newsom. Politicians did not cite the murder case as an example of racist hatred or decry it as “gun violence.”
Muhammad’s attorneys Richard Beshwate and Antonio Alvarez, argued that Muhammad was “not thinking clearly” and has a history of schizophrenia, delusions and hearing voices. His attorneys must now prove that at the time of the crime, Kori Ali Muhammad did not know the difference between right and wrong.
If the jury decides Muhammad was sane, they could opt for the death penalty or life imprisonment. The sentences may amount to the same. In one of his first acts in office, Gov. California reprieved 737 convicted murderers on California’s death row. In the Golden State, a murderer can take four innocent lives and be certain of keeping his own.