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Attacker responsible for UC Merced stabbing self-radicalized
Faisal Mohammad



The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe into the stabbing attack at the UC Merced campus last year determined it was carried out by a student that had been “self-radicalized” and not part of a larger terrorist operation.

On Nov. 4, 2015, UC Merced freshman Faisal Mohammad, 18, of Santa Clara stabbed four people on the campus before he was shot and killed by UC Merced Police Officer Olaf Lopez.

Investigators found a two-page document written by Mohammad that detailed a large-scale attack in retaliation for his being kicked out of a study group.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force opened an investigation into the attack and conducted extensive interviews and thoroughly examined Mohammad’s electronic media.

“Investigators developed information that he may have self-radicalized and drawn inspiration from terrorist propaganda,” said FBI spokesperson Gina Swankie in a news release. “His laptop contained pro-ISIL propaganda, and he had visited ISIL and other extremist websites in the weeks prior to his attack. The FBI uncovered information that indicated Mohammad began his preparations for the attack at least one week prior to the assault. During this investigation no information has been developed that Mohammad was working with, or directed by, anyone in conducting this attack.”

Investigators also found a photocopy of an ISIL flag and a list of items he thought he would need for an attack such as zip ties, glass breaker, and a knife among his belongings.

Mohammad’s manifesto listed students he planned on targeting and laid out a blueprint of how the attack would occur. His first step was to tie the students to their desks using zip ties. His script also included making a phony distress call that would lure in at least one police officer. He planned on attacking the officer and using the gun to continue his rampage.

The attack began around 8 a.m. Nov. 4 in a second story classroom in the Classroom and Office Building. Mohammad entered the classroom armed with an 8 to 10 inch-long hunting knife and slashed the throat of a male student that was one of the students on his list. In the classroom student Tyler Patton helped protect some of his classmates by picking up a chair and using it to keep Mohammad at bay.

From that moment, Mohammad’s plans began to unravel, when construction worker Byron Price heard the commotion and entered the classroom. Mohammad turned his attention on Price, stabbing him in his side before fleeing the classroom.

Before Mohammad fled from the classroom student Brady Amaral sounded the alarm and cleared the hallways and areas around the classroom. 

Mohammad ran down the stairs and slashed another male student outside. He then ran up behind a female staff member at the university and stabbed her multiple times.

Officer Lopez and Officer Kevin Warkentin had been dispatched to another call for service at the Library Building when they received a radio transmission reporting the stabbing and a description of the suspect. Upon scanning the common area outside the Library, Lopez saw Mohammad stabbing the staff member outside the building.

The two officers pursued Mohammad and caught up to him on the bridge just west of the Library.  The officers yelled for Mohammad to stop. Mohammad turned toward the officers with the large knife in his right hand. He was standing about 10 feet away and refused to comply with the orders to drop the knife and get onto the ground. Mohammad began advancing on the officers and lunged at Lopez with the knife. Lopez shot Mohammad twice, with the second shot proving to be fatal.

“After an extensive investigation of all available evidence, no ties to co-conspirators or foreign terrorist organizations have been found. Every indication is that Mohammad acted on his own; however, it may never be possible to definitively determine why he chose to attack people on the UC Merced campus,” Swankie said.