MERCED (CBS SF) — An 18-year-old University of California, Merced student who stabbed four people with a hunting knife before he was killed by police on campus in November was inspired by the Islamic State group, but acted alone, according to federal authorities.
Faisal Mohammad, of Santa Clara, was a UC Merced freshman who was fatally shot by police shortly after he stabbed two students, a university employee and a construction contractor on Nov. 4, 2015.
Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said following the stabbings, that Mohammad described anger he felt after apparently being kicked out of a study group. The computer science and engineering major discussed his angers and plan in a “manifesto” later found on his body.
Warnke said based on the manifesto, Mohammad planned to use plastic ties to bind the hands of his classmates to their desks and was then going to call police with a fake distress call before ambushing responding officers with a hunting knife and stealing their guns.
Mohammad planned to use their guns to shoot a list of students he named in his manifesto, including those in his study group.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations assisted local law enforcement in the investigation.
FBI public affairs specialist Gina Swankie released a statement regarding the investigation Thursday, explaining that Mohammad may have become “self-radicalized and drawn inspiration from terrorist propaganda.”
FBI investigators said they found “pro-ISIL propaganda” on his laptop and evidence that he visited ISIL and other extremist websites in the weeks prior to the attack.
Mohammad apparently planned the attack at least one week before launching it. At the time of the stabbings Mohammad was carrying a backpack containing the manifesto, described as a two-page, hand-written plan detailing his desire to take hostages and kill students and police officers, according to the FBI.
But investigators said they found nothing to indicate he was directed by a terrorist group or working in conjunction with anyone else.
According to the FBI investigation, on the morning of Nov. 4th Mohammad entered a classroom where he stabbed a fellow student, then attacked three other people as he fled the classroom and moved across the campus.
A UC Merced police officer shot and killed Mohammad, but Mohammad’s four victims survived their injuries.
Following Mohammad’s death, investigators found a photocopy of an ISIL flag in his possession, along with other suspicious items.
The FBI has determined that Mohammad did not have ties to foreign terrorist organizations and believe he acted independently.
FBI investigators state,”it may never be possible to definitively determine why he chose to attack people on the UC Merced campus.”
UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland released a statement Thursday regarding the FBI’s investigation:
“We are relieved to finally have resolution to this very tragic event on the UC Merced campus…While I shared your desire for a quicker resolution, we are better served by law enforcement’s completion of its investigation in due course…I am proud of the way our campus community came together in the aftermath of this incident…Now, we move to the task of further healing and taking care of the needs of our students, staff and faculty.”
By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.