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Fresno killings suspect shouts out during 1st court hearing
By SCOTT SMITH
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- The suspect in this week's racially motivated shooting rampage in Fresno shouted Friday that natural disasters will increasingly hit the United States as he was ushered into a cramped courtroom for his first appearance before a judge.
Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, was supposed to be officially informed about the first-degree murder charge he is accused of in the shooting death of an unarmed security guard.
Authorities have said he then killed three more people in the rampage, targeting white victims, before he was caught.
But the reading of the charge never happened because Muhammad had another outburst, yelling "Let black people go" and a phrase similar to "in reparations" that was not clearly enunciated.
His court appointed lawyer, Eric Christensen, then told the judge: "I believe this gentleman may not be mentally competent to proceed."
Muhammad yelled again and the judge canceled the proceedings, setting bail at $2.6 million and ordering a mental evaluation for Muhammad.
Police have said Muhammad told them that learning he was wanted for the Williams' killing prompted him to try to kill as many white people as possible before he was caught.
He shot three other white men at random Tuesday, police said, including a Pacific Gas & Electric utility worker sitting in a truck and two men who had come out of a Catholic Charities building.
Muhammad fired 17 rounds in less than two minutes, police said. Officers with help from acoustic sensors posted in the area arrested him less than five minutes after the rampage began.
Muhammad said Williams showed him disrespect while Muhammad was visiting a woman at the motel, according to police.
Prosecutors said they are waiting for investigators to finish compiling their case before filing charges related the other three victims.
Christensen after the court hearing declined comment about his client or the authorities' case.
This undated photo provided by the Fresno Police Department shows Kori Ali Muhammad a suspect in the Fresno, Calif., shooting on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Muhammad was arrested on Tuesday shortly after the deadly morning rampage that left several dead according to police.
Attorney Eric Christensen looks toward his client Kori Ali Muhammad, as he makes a loud outburst in the courtroom during his first court appearance in Fresno County Superior Court, on Friday, April 21, 2017, in Fresno, Calif. Muhammad is the suspect in Tuesday's shooting-spree and is also charged with killing in an unarmed security guard at a Motel 6. The judge ruled against the press making photographs of the defendant in prison attire.
Pastors and church leaders gather for a final prayer following a prayer walk for the victims of Tuesday's triple-homicide near downtown Fresno, Calif., Thursday, April 20, 2017. Members of the Pastor Clusters of the Fresno/Clovis area traced the route of the alleged killer, holding prayers at the location of each victim.
Fresno County Superior Court judge W. Kent Hamlin presides over the courtroom during an appearance by shooting-spree suspect Kori Ali Muhammad, on Friday, April 21, 2017.
Pastor Tim Rolen, left, of New Hope Community Church in Clovis, kneels to pray with other church leaders at the site where Mark Gassett was shot and killed in Tuesday's triple-homicide, during a prayer walk in Fresno, Calif., on Thursday, April 20, 2017. Pastors and church leaders from the Pastor Clusters of the Fresno/Clovis area traced the route of the alleged killer, holding prayers at the location of each victim
Deputy District Attorney Brian Hutchins, second from left, speaks to bailiffs outside Fresno County Superior Court prior to a court appearance by shooting-spree suspect Kori Ali Muhammad, on Friday, April 21, 2017, in Fresno, Calif.
Christopher Gularte, Fresno Police chief of homicide, makes a brief statement to the press outside Fresno County Superior Court prior to a court appearance by shooting-spree suspect Kori Ali Muhammad, on Friday, April 21, 2017, in Fresno, Calif.