Family of UC Merced attacker expresses sympathy to victims

Suspect: Faisal Mohammad of Santa Clara

The family of the 18-year-old student who stabbed four people at the University of California, Merced, last week before being killed by police expressed sympathy to the victims, a short statement released Tuesday said.

Faisal Mohammad, a freshman from Santa Clara, California, was a "kind and respectful young man," family members said in their first comments since the attack last Wednesday.

"He was always quiet and humble and excelled in school and academics," according to the statement released through San Jose attorney Daniel Mayfield. "His teachers and friends always spoke well of him."

The family also thanked their friends for support and requested privacy.

Authorities have said that Mohammad had no previous run-ins with police and no clues in his past behavior to indicate that he would try to kill his classmates as revenge for being kicked out of a study group.

All the victims are expected to recover.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said Mohammed left behind a two-page "manifesto" explaining that he was angry with being kicked out of a study group and a detailed plan of revenge.

Warnke said that investigators did not find evidence of mental illness or signs that he would be prone to violence or bloodshed before the attack.

Mohammad stabbed two students, a university employee and a construction contractor credited with interrupting the attack before campus police shot him to death.

According to the manifesto, Mohammad planned to bind students to their desks with zip-tie handcuffs. Then, he was going to make a fake 911 distress call, ambush responding officers with the hunting knife he carried and steal their guns to shoot a list of targeted classmates, including those in his study group.

Warnke called the plan the delusions of an angry young man, saying Mohammad wanted to do more harm but had little capacity to carry it out.

Background checks with help from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security showed no connections to organized hate or terror groups, the sheriff said. And there was nothing from Mohammad's childhood pointing to a propensity for violence, investigators said.

Warnke and school officials said Tuesday that campus police would take over the investigation with assistance from the FBI. Authorities declined to say why the sheriff's department was handing off the investigation.

Despite the sheriff's assurances, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights organization based in Los Angeles, called on federal officials to continue investigating Mohammad's background and activities for possible links to the Islamic State or other groups.

"Clearly, an 18-year-old freshman would not know how to plan a major assault without having access to some form of training," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who heads the center's Digital Terrorism and Hate project.

The FBI's Sacramento office issued a statement on Tuesday reiterating that Mohammad had not been on the agency's radar before the Nov. 4 stabbings "occurred without warning or advance indication." The statement said authorities would not comment on the ongoing investigation.

"Without the ability to ask him directly, the investigative efforts focus on fully examining all available evidence to ascertain his motives," the FBI said.