A gunman who nicknamed himself ‘Black Jesus’ shot and killed three strangers in a bid to kill as many white people as possible, police said.
During his rampage, Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, first walked up to a lorry and shot the man sitting in the passenger seat.
He shot at another and missed, then hit a 37-year-old man walking on a pavement as he carried groceries.
The final victim was shot dead in the car park of a charity building.
They were shot seconds apart at around 10.45am yesterday in Fresno, California.
As he was arrested he shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ – God is great – but police said the shootings had ‘nothing to do with terrorism in spite of the statement he made.
‘This is solely based on race.’
Muhammad, who is black, fired 16 rounds in less than two minutes at four places within a block, shooting white men who simply appeared to be going about their daily business, police said.Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer said: ‘These individuals who were chosen today did not do anything to deserve what they got.
‘These were unprovoked attacks by an individual that was intent on carrying out homicides today. He did that.’
Police had put out a news release hours before the shootings Tuesday, saying that Muhammad was armed and dangerous and wanted over the shooting death of a security guard at a Motel 6 last week.
The guard, 25-year-old Carl Williams, was white.
Muhammad told officers who arrested him that he was the man they were looking for, Mr Dyer said, saying: ‘I did it. I shot them.’
Police are searching for the revolver Muhammad said he threw into a pile of clothing.
Muhammad faces four counts of murder and at least two additional charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
On what appeared to be his Facebook page, he repeatedly posted ‘#LetBlackPeopleGo’ and encouraged ‘black warriors’ to ‘mount up’.
He wrote that his ‘kill rate increases tremendously on the other side’ and also posted about ‘white devils’.
Muhammad has a criminal history that includes arrests on weapons, drugs and false imprisonment charges and making terrorist threats.
He had been associated with gangs but he was not a confirmed member, police say.
Muhammad was charged in 2005 with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, court records show.
Federal prosecutors said at the time that he was also in possession of a 9mm semi-automatic handgun and two rifles after being convicted of a felony.
He claimed insanity and his lawyer requested a psychiatric examination, saying Muhammad ‘appeared eccentric with some bizarre beliefs’.
A psychiatrist who examined Muhammad believed he had psychosis, his lawyer said in the court filing.
He also ‘suffered auditory hallucinations and had at least two prior mental health hospitalisations’, according to court documents.
Police said his former name was Cory McDonald and a woman who identified herself as Taylor’s grandmother said the family last saw him on Easter Sunday.