The April 18 fatal shooting of three people in the streets of downtown Fresno, California, is being investigated as a hate crime.
Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, who was arrested for the shooting spree, allegedly chose his victims because they were white, reports the Daily Mail.
“If in fact he’s lashing out at white people, white males in this case, that would constitute a hate crime,” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. “We believe it is a hate crime, definitely a hate crime.”
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Although Muhammad allegedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" -- Arabic for "God is great," a prayer often invoked by Islamic terrorists during attacks -- Dyer insists that the killings had "nothing to do with terrorism," reports The Los Angeles Times.
Muhammad is also suspected of the April 13 fatal shooting of a white security guard.
“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's father, Vincent Taylor, said that his son believed there was a race war going on in America.
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"I'm happy he was arrested. I would hope that whatever Kori tells [police,] they take him seriously and they start following up," he said.
In 2005, Muhammad was indicted by a grand jury on charges of cocaine and firearm possession, but was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial. He suffered "auditory hallucinations and had at least two prior mental health hospitalizations," according to court documents. He reportedly ended up serving 92 months in jail.
Muhammad's Facebook page advocates black nationalism, with images of the red, green and black Pan-African flag and a raised fist, including a reference to "white devils" and the demand to “let black people go.”
Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said Muhammad’s social media postings include numerous references to terms used by the Nation of Islam, which has been labeled a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The SPLC has noted that recruitment among black separatist groups has increased since the election of President Donald Trump.
"Banking on the hopes that American minorities will feel alienated if President Trump handles the subject of race the way he did during his campaign, with divisive language and an attention to white nationalism, black separatism is finding a renewed sense of energy," said the watchdog organization in a Jan. 12 article. "The expectation across many black separatist groups is that if the Trump administration continues to alienate minority communities, the more likely members of those communities are to join them."