UC Merced attack suspect manifesto, ISIS flag hidden from public because of lawsuit from father

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- November 4th, 2015: A day imprinted forever in the history of UC Merced.

Freshman Faisal Mohammad stabbed four people before a campus police officer shot and killed him.

Merced County sheriff's deputies initially said he was just an 18-year-old acting out of vengeance, but later admitted they found an ISIS flag along with a two-page manifesto describing his plan of attack.

Action News has made a series of public records requests to see the evidence, and the university was set to release it, but the suspect's father never wants the public to see.

He's filed a lawsuit in Alameda County trying to prevent UC Merced from releasing the records to us or anyone else.

He says disclosing the records would lead to harassment, discrimination, and even hate crimes.

"It's their theory, their implication, that this will reflect negatively on the Muslim faith and Muslim people and that this shouldn't be released," said legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "Again, I don't think that's a strong enough argument in this particular case. The public has a right to know and that's going to trump any other right that's out there."

An FBI investigation found the suspect acted alone, without coordinating with foreign terrorist organizations, but they said he was inspired by ISIS.

His laptop had the terrorist organization's propaganda on it, he'd visited its websites recently, and he had the flag.

His father's lawsuit says public interest in those records is minimal.

"There's always public interest in a crime like this," Capozzi said. "People want to know why someone did what they did."

A couple days after the attack, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke revealed some of what investigators found in the two-page note.

He said the suspect named targets in something like a hit list, and outlined a plan to attack police and get a gun to kill people.

Capozzi said seeing the actual documents could help people notice the signs of trouble in the future.

"When people see what was there if they see it now and it comes up again in a later context, it could prevent an incident like this from ever happening again," he said.

An attorney for the suspect's father didn't return our request for comment, but he'll make his argument to a judge soon.
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