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Police: UC Merced Stabbings Not Terrorism

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Faisal Mohammad

UPDATE: 6:22 PM - Authorities say they now know what prompted UC Merced student Faisal Mohammad to go on a stabbing rampage Wednesday, leaving four others injured. 

According to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, a manifesto found on Mohammad's body during the autopsy indicates he was upset at fellow students after being kicked out of a campus study group. The manifesto contained the names of intended victims and a detailed, minute-by-minute account of his planned attack. 

The document allegedly indicates that Mohammad planned a larger attack than he ultimately carried out, before he was shot and killed by UC Merced Police. 

Warnke says law enforcement officials are confident at this time that the attack was not connected to organized terrorism, and instead was motived by his anger at his classmates. 

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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ORIGINAL POST:

Police at UC Merced say the student who went on a stabbing rampage on campus was acting alone and does not appear to be carrying out an act of terrorism.

18-year old Faisal Mohammad stabbed four people early Wednesday morning before being shot and killed by campus police.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said it appears Mohammad was taking out a personal vendetta, not acting for political or religious reasons.

“We had nothing to indicate that this person was on anybody’s radar. We checked through everything that we had access to. That is why I asked the assistance of the FBI and Homeland Security. And there is nothing they could find,” Warnke said.

Among the four victims, who police have refused to name officially, was Byron Price. Price was a construction worker and among the first to respond to the attack His father Jim, who owns a construction company that was doing work on campus, said his son looked Mohammad right in the eye before being stabbed in the side while trying to stop the attack.

“And he said the guy had a strange, almost smile on his face like he was enjoying what was going on. And he said that was spooky,” Price said.

In addition to the knife, Mohamed’s backpack contained handcuffs, duct tape, and other items that investigators say indicate he had larger attack plans.

Police declined to elaborate if Mohammad has chosen his victims specifically or why he might have picked them. They also declined to say what triggered the rampage.

Charles Nies, the vice chancellor for student affairs, said counselors from around the UC system are on campus to assist students.

“The fact that we have the support here from our colleagues at University of California Santa Barbara, who unfortunately went through a tragic shooting incident on their campus, they are bringing their knowledge and experience with them and that is helping us,” Nies said.

There were 15 students in the classroom at the time of attack and that Mohammad was enrolled in the class. Of the four people he stabbed, two were students, one was an advisor and the fourth was a construction worker.

Citing an ongoing investigation, police officials declined to say why the officers opened fire on Mohammad after he fled the classroom.

UC Merced Chancellor Dorthy Leland said the attack has truly upset the sleepy, rural campus.

“This was a horrible act by a single individual that impacted the campus. It is not characteristic of what happens on our campus. And it is a wonderful and safe place. And over time we are going to need to build that confidence back up in our students,” Leland said.

Some campus services re-opened on Thursday. The school is set to fully re-open Friday morning.

Jeffrey Hess is a reporter and Morning Edition news host for Valley Public Radio. Jeffrey was born and raised in a small town in rural southeast Ohio. After graduating from Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio with a communications degree, Jeffrey embarked on a radio career. After brief stops at stations in Ohio and Texas, and not so brief stops in Florida and Mississippi, Jeffrey and his new wife Shivon are happy to be part Valley Public Radio.