A lone gunman fatally shot three people close to a Catholic Charities office in Fresno, California

The Diocese of Fresno, California has urged the local Catholic community to “live as people of light, not darkness, by rejecting the temptation to hate the hater” after three men were killed on Tuesday in shootings close to a Catholic Charities office.

“Once again, our community is touched by darkness,” said the diocesan statement. “Family, friends, neighbours and the vast multitude of good and caring people in our community must now decide, once again, how we will respond to this senseless tragedy.”

One of the three victims was shot at a bus stop near a Catholic Charities office in the attack on April 18, and another was shot in the agency’s parking lot.

Kelly Lilles, executive director of Catholic Charities in Fresno, said: “Our hearts are heavy as we reflect on the wrong done to our community yesterday and the horrific events that took place as a result of one angry individual.”

The gunman, Kori Ali Muhammad, was also wanted in the killing of a security guard in Fresno the previous week. The Associated Press reported that Muhammad fired 16 rounds in less than two minutes at four places within a block.

Lilles said in a statement that she and the staff and board of directors of Catholic Charities were thankful for those who reached out to the victims and for the first responders on the scene.

She said the Catholic Charities team had come together for prayers for the victims and their families, for clients and each other. They also continued their work, opening their doors the day after the shooting for clients. “Nothing will stop us from being a light for our community and we will continue to be here even in times of great sadness,” she added.

The Fresno diocesan statement urged Catholics to reflect on what they experienced, stressing that “anger and outrage are certainly a natural reaction; yet, these feelings must also be experienced as an invitation to prayerful reflection.”

The statement pointed out that “in less than two minutes, three lives were taken for no apparent reason beyond an incomprehensible depth of hatred carried in the heart of one man.”

The diocese offered prayers for the deceased and their families and for the “conversion of souls that intentionally inflict acts of violence on innocent victims.”