MERCED (AP) – A university freshman angry that he was kicked out of a study group carried a hunting knife, a backpack full of restraints and a detailed revenge plan into his classroom.
Faisal Mohammad, 18, planned to bind his classmates to their desks with zip-tie handcuffs from his backpack, which also contained a hammer, a night-vision scope and baggies of petroleum jelly, a possible explosive. He was going to make a fake 911 distress call, ambush responding officers with the knife and steal their guns to shoot a list of targeted students, including those in his study group.
But the elaborate plan described in his two-page manifesto was as delusional as it was violent, authorities said after Mohammad’s stabbing rampage left four wounded Wednesday at the University of California, Merced.
Campus police shot and killed Mohammad after he stabbed two students, a university employee and a construction contractor who interrupted the attack carried out as classes began on the campus in the farm-rich San Joaquin Valley, 120 miles south of Sacramento. All the victims are recovering.
Mohammad’s plan for revenge was found on his body during an autopsy Thursday, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said. Mohammad discussed his anger at being ousted from the study group, the sheriff said, but Warnke didn’t know why the computer science and engineering major was excluded.
“He had delusions of grandeur,” Warnke said. “I don’t think he had any actual capability to carry it out.”
Mohammad’s plan was written in English and referenced the Muslim God Allah several times, Warnke said, but the teen was motivated by personal animosities. The attack had nothing to do with religion or terrorism, the sheriff said.
“We had a teenager who was upset he was kicked out of a study group,” Warnke said. “We had a teenager who didn’t know how to channel his anger.”
Investigators didn’t find evidence of mental illness or indications that Mohammad would be prone to violence. Background checks with help from the FBI and Homeland Security showed no connections to organized hate or terror groups, the sheriff said. Mohammad was born in the United States.
Mohammad began his rampage by stabbing a fellow student in a required general education course. Byron Price, 31, a construction worker doing remodeling work next door, ran into the classroom thinking he would break up a fistfight. He is credited with preventing Mohammad from killing that student.
Price said Mohammad charged at him with the knife and stabbed him in the side.
“His eyes, I could see fear in his eyes,” Price told the Merced Sun Star. “He was smiling.”
Mohammad fled the room and stabbed two others – one in a stairway, the other on bench outside – as police chased him to a nearby pedestrian bridge.
Meghan Christopherson, a 19-year-old sophomore, told the Fresno Bee that Mohammad suddenly stopped to face the officer and then started walking toward him.
The officer backed up and “kept continuously telling him to put it on the ground, get on the ground and put your hands above your head,” Christopherson said.
When he wouldn’t, the officer asked if Mohammad wanted to get shot, she said. Then, the attacker lunged at the officer, and Christopherson took off running, afraid she’d be caught in the crossfire.
She heard two shots and turned to see the officer standing over Mohammad’s body.
A high school buddy in Santa Clara, California, expressed shock that Mohammad stabbed four people.
“He was quiet, but he was really friendly,” Ish Patel said. “He was intelligent, too – he performed well academically.”
Patel said Mohammad enjoyed basketball, going to the mosque to pray and playing video games with his friends.
Mohammad’s suitemate at college says he was an anti-social loner.
“(Mohammad) didn’t talk much. And I never saw him walk with anybody. Walking to class, I never saw him walk with anybody,” Andrew Velasquez told KSFN-TV in Fresno.
Classes for the university’s 6,700 students resumed Friday.
Elias reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writer Alina Hartounian in Phoenix contributed to this story.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.