Shooting victim Williams always tried to help others, ‘loved everybody’

Fresno Police handout photo of shooting victim Carl Williams.
Fresno Police handout photo of shooting victim Carl Williams.

Carl Allen Williams III “was the kindest soul,” working two full-time jobs so he could buy a better home for his grandmother and trying to make his community better by volunteering and giving blood, his sister says.

Williams, 25, was working as an unarmed security guard at a central Fresno motel on April 13 when he was shot to death. His alleged killer, Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, is also suspected of shooting three men to death Tuesday in a rampage north of downtown Fresno.

Williams’ sister, Crystal Shirkey, described her brother as “my best friend” and someone who always tried to help other people. “He loved everybody,” she said. “There wasn’t one bad thing about him; I think that’s why we feel so much shock.

“My brother was stolen from us. He was barely starting his life.”

So it seems fitting to honor Williams’ memory, Shirkey said, with a blood drive from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Central California Blood Bank’s northwest Fresno location, 4343 W. Herndon Ave. “With all of these horrible acts happening, I’m trying to do something good for him and I want to make him proud,” Shirkey said Wednesday.

More than 100 people attended a candlelight vigil Saturday night at the Motel 6 on Blackstone Avenue near Ashlan Avenue where Williams was killed, said Joe Muenzenberger, a friend and mentor to Williams in his day job at Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores in Fresno and Clovis. “We all circled around where he fell after he was shot and everyone spoke, his family and the Babies R Us store manager. He had so many friends who loved him. Carl was always positive; he had good energy, a good vibe.”

Williams was an up-and-comer through management ranks at Toys R Us and Babies R Us. Shirkey said he had recently earned promotions in both jobs – to supervisor with Monument Security and assistant manager at the Toys R Us store in Clovis.

Muenzenberger, the Toys R Us store manager in Fresno, said Williams “was my only friend in Fresno” since transferring from Stockton about a year ago. “Carl was at the Babies R Us (store near River Park); I remodeled that store about a year ago and we stayed very close,” Muenzenberger said. “I mentored him up, and he finally just got his big break in life.”

Muenzenberger said Williams was promoted only three weeks ago from a department supervisor at Babies R Us to assistant manager at the Clovis store, and looked forward to advancing in a retail career. “Once you get to assistant manager, you’re made,” he said. “You can live on that. But he wanted to go on to be a store manager.”

Shirkey said Williams, at age 25, was the youngest of three siblings “and was the baby of the family.”

“We’re still in shock,” Shirkey said Wednesday. “We haven’t even seen my brother yet. It’s still kind of surreal. The most painful part is when we will actually see him.

“He always tried to use words and talk things out rather than fighting,” she added. “(The police) are saying these are hate crimes, and my brother wouldn’t understand that. He loved everybody, of every color.”

Williams, who had been licensed as a security guard by the state’s Bureau of Security and Investigative Services since 2015, was working at the motel and had asked Muhammad and an unidentified woman to follow him to the motel office to get their identifications. Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters Wednesday that Muhammad “felt disrespected” by Williams during an argument and shot him.

Muenzenberger said he was in stunned disbelief when Williams’ sister texted him at 3 a.m., hours after the shooting. “I didn’t think it was real,” Muenzenberger said, his voice breaking. “I tried to call his cell phone, and then I called her after. I didn’t think it was real. He was such a good guy.”

“We get in situations in retail, stuff will happen with people in the store who shouldn’t be there,” Muenzenberger added. “He was always really cautious. There’s no way he provoked this guy. I know Carl too well. This guy didn’t give him a chance.”

Shirkey said Williams’ mother and stepfather, Francine Williams Hicks and Randy Hicks, and his father, Carl Williams Jr., all live in Fresno, as does another sister, Ashley Williams. He also has a younger stepbrother, Judd Hicks, and two stepsisters, Annie and Ellie Hicks.

A funeral for Williams will be 11 a.m. Saturday at the Northeast Assembly of God, 4386 N. Chestnut Ave. in Fresno. A graveside service will follow at 12:30 p.m. at St. Peter’s Cemetery, 264 N. Blythe Ave. Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Palm La Paz Chapel, 2983 Tulare St. in downtown Fresno.

Blood drive in memory of Carl Williams

What: Blood donor drive in memory of Carl Allen Williams III, who was shot and killed April 13 while working as a security guard at a Blackstone Avenue motel

Where: Central California Blood Center, 4343 W. Herndon Ave., near Blythe Avenue, northwest Fresno

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 20