Bill McEwen

Killer’s savage spree does not define who we are

Religious leaders hold prayer walk for victims of Tuesday's triple-homicide in Fresno

Members of the Fresno-Clovis Pastors Clusters trace the route of the suspected killer to pray for peace and condolences for the victims on Thursday, April 20, 2017.
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Members of the Fresno-Clovis Pastors Clusters trace the route of the suspected killer to pray for peace and condolences for the victims on Thursday, April 20, 2017.

This is a time to hold family members tight, and to support those who lost loved ones at the hands of confessed killer Kori Ali Muhammad.

It is not the time to disrespect the four men of our community who were killed in cold blood – or their mourning families – by turning this tragedy into a debate on racism, terrorism and religion.

And there’s never a time to make conclusions supported only by emotion and prejudice.

Shame on those who are spinning this tragic event to fit their agenda before the victims are remembered, wept over and respectfully laid to rest. And before Fresno police and the FBI have investigated Muhammad and shared their findings.

Unfortunately, there are those who criticize officials and media who wait for the facts to be dug up. Or criticize them because they simply don’t like the facts that are reported.

My email box is filled with complaints and accusations from people all over America. They are of the opinion that Muhammad is an “Islamic terrorist” because he shouted “Allahu Akbar” before he was apprehended.

In these emails, the writers indict The Bee’s coverage and Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer for failing to declare Muhammad an Islamic terrorist.

Other emails complain about “racist” coverage and label the police chief a racist because he said that Muhammad was motivated by racial hatred – not terrorism.

Here are the facts:

All three of Muhammad’s victims Tuesday were white, as was Carl Williams III, a security guard shot and killed last Thursday at a Motel 6 on Blackstone Avenue. Muhammad also had posted a music video containing these lyrics: “Demanding justice for the murders of my black kin; Hollow points make a white devil body spin.”

On Wednesday, in the face of those who desperately want these killings labeled an Islamic terrorist act for reasons known only to themselves, Dyer doubled down on the assessment he made Tuesday.

“He’s not a terrorist, he is a racist, filled with hate,” Dyer said at a news conference. “He set out to kill as many as he could. He’s not going to kill anyone else.”

But enough about the complainers and the self-anointed terrorism experts.

The focus now, while the police do their work, should be on the defenseless victims, their families and our city.

Muhammad – 39 years old, deeply disturbed and unfortunately in possession of a .357 revolver – does not define us. But in the face of such violent loss, it’s natural to question your safety and the safety of those you treasure. It’s natural to wonder if Fresno is falling apart.

Be assured that we are the same city we were before Muhammad began his murder spree. Like any city we have our problems. But these problems are not insurmountable. Neither these problems nor Muhammad’s homicidal actions should mask all the good that the good people of our city do every day.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr reminded us of that with his tweet right after news broke of Muhammad’s downtown rampage: “love the city of Fresno and will forever! I’m so sad to hear what happened there. Stay strong Fresno! Praying for you!”

In coming days, think about what Dyer said Tuesday. He has seen the good and the bad of this city up close over 38 years with the police department: “This is not indicative of Fresno. We have a community that is filled with good people – people that are compassionate, loving and caring.”

Think, too, about what Joey Contente, a friend of victim Zackary Randalls, told The Bee’s Marc Benjamin:

“Zack would be the first person to ask why we are judging him (Muhammad) for his beliefs. He would say he obviously had a mental issue, that his beliefs didn’t cause this.”