The California college student who stabbed four people last month in a campus spree that ended when he was killed by campus police was described by his roommate as "an extreme Muslim" and carried a manifesto and a photocopy of an ISIS flag -- more than enough to convince John Price he was a terrorist.
Yet, more than a month after the Nov. 4 attack at University of California Merced, local and federal authorities continue to insist that Faisal Mohammad, 18, carried out the vicious attack because he'd been banished from a study group. Price, whose son Byron Price, a 31-year-old construction manager for the family business who was working nearby and was stabbed when he heroically intervened, suspects the White House's reluctance to identify acts of radical Islamic terror has trickled down to investigators who are still probing the Merced attack.
“Why don’t we just call it what it is -- domestic terrorism?" said Price. "Everyone is afraid to be politically incorrect. I do believe in law enforcement and believe they will do their job, but it seems like to me we aren’t getting the whole story. I just wonder how much of this is driven from way higher up and is politically driven -- I just don’t know.”
“Why don’t we just call it what it is - domestic terrorism? Everyone is afraid to be politically incorrect."
- John Price, father of stabbing victim
Mohammad, whose victims all survived, left behind a rambling, two-page manifesto in which he instructed himself to “praise Allah” as he worked his way through his hit list, a photocopied ISIS flag and at least one shaken roommate who remembers him as a menacing loner.
“He was a loner and an extreme Muslim,” Ali Tarek Elshekh, Mohammad’s roommate, told Merced Sheriff’s Department Detective Jose Silva in a statement, also noting Mohammad was “way out there.”
Elshekh, who is Muslim, told sheriffs that a friend of his had asked Mohammad what would happen if he touched the mat he used for praying, and got a chilling response.
“I will kill you,” Mohammad calmly vowed, in what Elshekh said was not a “normal” response for a Muslim.
Elshekh, whose statement was included in a warrant obtained by FoxNews.com through a Freedom of Information Act request from the Merced Superior Court, said he last saw Mohammad just minutes before the attack, sitting on his bed in their dorm room, dressed in a hooded sweater, hood over his face, with his backpack on his back, staring straight ahead in silence.
The warrant, which authorized detectives to search Mohammad's dorm, car and other possessions, showed investigators found a second copy of the manifesto in Mohammad’s garbage can, along with several discarded petroleum jelly cans, duct tape wrappers, large zip ties, a package that had contained a knife and sharpener, a red prayer rug and a copy of the Koran.
Authorities believe Mohammad, who carried out his attack with an 8-inch hunting knife, planned to steal a gun by overpowering a campus cop and then take several more victims. Price was credited with slowing his attack, providing a chance for others to escape and helping to ensure that police ended the onslaught before anyone was killed. To his father, Price helped stop a terrorist.
The hesitance to call a crime “terrorism” is a familiar scenario replayed last week some 326 miles south in San Bernardino, where authorities took several days to ascribe terrorism as the motivation for an attack despite what seemed like overwhelming evidence. And while authorities, including President Obama, have now said the attack that left 14 dead in San Bernardino was a terrorist act, the motive for Mohammad’s spree, which resulted in no fatalities, remains unattributed.
The manifesto authored by the 18-year-old freshman, copies of which were found both on his body during the autopsy and in the trash can in his dorm, bore names of his targets, a vow “to cut someone’s head off” and as many as five reminders to “praise Allah.”
He detailed how he wanted to behead, stab and shoot his victims, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke told FoxNews.com, in an earlier interview.
“No. 27 was to ‘make sure people are tied down,’ No. 28 was “sit down and praise Allah,'” Warnke said. “I remember seeing four or five times, scribbled on the side of the two-page manifesto, where he wrote something like ‘praise Allah.’”
“There was a gruesome statement he made about wanting to cut someone’s head off and kill two people with one bullet, and he planned to shoot the police,” Warnke said. “He did not have a firearm with him and didn’t seem to have a lot of experience with firearms because he thought he could kill two people with one bullet. He reminded himself in the list to raise the gun slowly. He scripted everything out in chronological order.”
Warnke, initially involved in the case, told FoxNews.com weeks ago that his office would release the manifesto to the press after the sheriff’s role in investigation wrapped up, but the sheriff’s department has since withdrawn from the investigation, leaving it to the UC Merced Police Department and the FBI, and Warnke is no longer responding to media requests from FoxNews.com.
A spokeswoman for the FBI in Sacramento would not provide any information other than to report, “the investigation is ongoing.” Neither UC Merced police, the lead agency on the case, nor the university’s administration, have made public the manifesto or the copy of the Islamic State flag Mohammad was reportedly carrying, despite repeated requests from FoxNews.com, also maintaining the investigation still continues.
“It seems like people way higher up are not taking this as seriously as they should, at best, and, at worst, they are deliberately ignoring what has really happened for political reasons,” Price said. “Even if Faisal Mohammad is only one individual, his aim was to cause terror, and while it may not have been commanded by ISIS, the group inspired him.”
Malia Zimmerman is an award-winning investigative reporter focusing on crime, homeland security, illegal immigration crime, terrorism and political corruption. Follow her on twitter at @MaliaMZimmerman