Three Muslim Students Killed in U.S. Shooting

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  • W460
  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

A North Carolina man espousing anti-religious views has been charged with the murders of three Muslim students, including a husband and wife, who were shot to death in the university town of Chapel Hill, police said Wednesday.

Police said they were looking into the possibility of a hate crime, but that the incident appeared to be triggered by a dispute between neighbors over parking.

The shooter, identified as 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks, was being held without bond in the Durham County Jail on three counts of first-degree murder, police said.

The victims, who were pronounced dead on the scene, were identified as Chapel Hill residents Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, as well as her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh.

Hicks turned himself in after the shooting Tuesday in Chapel Hill, just outside the campus of the University of North Carolina.

"Our preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking," Chapel Hill police said in a statement, adding that Hicks was cooperating with investigators.

“Our investigators are exploring what could have motivated Mr. Hicks to commit such a senseless and tragic act. We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case," Police Chief Chris Blue said.

A Facebook page believed to belong to Hicks showed dozens of anti-religious posts, including one calling himself an "anti-theist," saying he has a "conscientious objection to religion," and other memes denouncing Christianity, Mormonism and Islam.

His page also showed a photo of a loaded revolver, alongside a video of a puppy and a promotional clip for Air New Zealand.

One post read: "I'm not an atheist because I'm ignorant of the reality of religious scripture. I'm an atheist because religious scripture is ignorant of reality."

"Given the enormous harm that your religion has done in this world, I’d say that I have not only a right, but a duty, to insult it," he posted under the religious beliefs tab.

Reaction to shooting lit up Twitter, with one of the top trending hashtags being #MuslimLivesMatter – a parallel to the "Black Lives Matter" movement sparked by police killings of African Americans in recent months.

Photos of the three victims circulated on social media, including recent wedding pictures of Barakat and his wife.

Reports said Barakat was a second-year student in dentistry there, while Mohammad was planning to begin her dental studies in the fall.

Abu-Salha was a student at North Carolina State University, according to the UNC university newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel.

A Facebook community --– Our Three Winners –- has been set up for posts about the three students.

"Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha have returned to their Lord," the site's creators state. "They have set an example in life and in death."

The site features a photo of the three smiling at what appears to be graduation ceremony. The women wear Muslim head scarfs, one of them also in a blue graduation cap.

Barakat's brother Farris mourned the deaths, writing "it doesn't make sense" on his own Facebook page.

"Please pray for them, their friends, and the family. I haven't even begun to fully comprehend what has happened. But I know for sure those three together have done so much we are all proud of," Farris Barakat wrote.

Comments 14
Thumb Mira96 11 February 2015, 12:23

The three victims were Muslims and levantines, the shooter was a white christian yet the police don't know the cause? Had the victims been jews or the attacker been muslim, this story had been huge. Had the shooter been muslim, the incident would have been called terrorist attack right away yet because the shooter isen't, all of a sudden, not even a motive can be found? Injustice at it's finest. All human life is sacred!

Missing hajjradwan 11 February 2015, 18:20

"the shooter was a white christian"? Was he really? How is he Christian? Did you just decide this on your own or does it come from your dogmatic and ideological hate for Christians? Can't you read moron? You are stupidity at it's finest unfortunately, which makes your somewhat legitimize rant valueless. You should have stopped at "All human life is sacred!". Anyway, RIP Shaddy , Yusor and Razan three innocent victims of senseless violence and stupidity.

Thumb Mira96 12 February 2015, 00:26

hajjradwan, don't jump to conclusions. Had the shooter been a brown "Samer Al-insert arabic last name" and the victims had been non-muslim then you would have assumed he was a muslim. White christians (evangelists in particular) in the US have been inciting against Muslims in the media, in their religious places, on the internet and elsewhere. Indeed, the reactions by many have been "i wish more died" and other such comments in support of these shootings, you can evem see those reactions casually on social media openly. Don't act like it was weird to assume he was a christian. He fits the profile of an extreme republican christian from a small town.

Thumb Mira96 12 February 2015, 00:06

I actually came back to this article only to repost a comment making it clear that the shooter was an atheist. Anononymoustexas, when i posted my comment, this story wasen't yet as big as it is now, people have hashtagged it to the maximum. This story ended up here because naharnet posts AFPs articles when it comes to the world news. And you and i both know that the word terrorist shows up the moment a shooter is suspected of being Muslm, of course the police don't say it as a fact but they say things like "investigating if the shooter had links to terrorist groups" and so on.

Thumb Mira96 12 February 2015, 00:08

Veritas, no need for more dead Muslims in the US when american bombs take care of killing Muslims outside the US. And yes i was mistaken about him being a christian.

Thumb Mira96 12 February 2015, 00:13

Flamethrower, the truth is that you are a troll who hates Muslims and loves to insult EVERY member who doesn't share your sick hatred for every non-aoun worshiper, By the way, i made sure to come back to this article ONLY to write that i was mistaken and that he was actually an atheist. i would love to see you admit your mistake some time. Lord knows there are many of them.

Thumb Mira96 12 February 2015, 00:15

Flamethrower, people like you can't coexist with anyone. You are not only a racist and a secterian but an unnoble person who only knows how to attack people.

Thumb Mira96 12 February 2015, 00:32

Lastly i will say, this article was much shorter when i wrote my first comment and at that time this story was still being downplayed. Had i not mentioned that the shooter was christian, most of you wouldn't even have bothered to comment here. You insulted me for a simple mistake as if it was a far-fetched thing to be mistaken on. No wonder why many view christians as hostile and aggressive. Next time, try to apply the teachings of Christ when correcting somene instead of going on your insult-rants.

Thumb marcus 11 February 2015, 17:55

The crime was execution style. It is a hate crime and the maximum punishment should be served upon this evil man. What a tragedy....

Thumb the_roar 11 February 2015, 18:33

The media has gone mad....Half the blame is the media.

Firstly RIP to the victims.
secondly..news flash should simply read...3 shot dead execution style or whatever has been established.

why does the media incite further trouble by using sectarian headlines.
3 human lives were lost....not 3 muslim lives etc.

Media should be held accountable for inciting more strife & more deaths & hatred worldwide.

Thumb Mira96 12 February 2015, 00:17

The roar, i have seen you insult Muslims repeatedly on naharnet yet now you have a problem with Muslim victims being called Muslims in the headline because it's secterian?

Thumb eagledawn 11 February 2015, 21:24

filthy sectarian

Thumb eagledawn 12 February 2015, 10:53

As if anybody believes mowaten's lies. He has an identity crisis and severe character issues. He is a hardcore shia fundamentalist but like all hezbollah supporters on this site pretends to be atheists or Christians. He is sectarian to the bone and lacks integrity.

Default-user-icon Patrick Loisel (Guest) 12 February 2015, 17:22

The Salafist in Saudi Arabia who fund and promotes terrorist HATE other Muslims and don't care about them unless they need canon fodder, brainwashing agents or scapegoats. Anyone out of their clique deserves to die, wheter it's us or other Muslims. When people generalize, they are more than happy to have us panic because we believe we have 1.8 billion of enemies rather than a few thousands, and when honest people loke those 3 die, it just enable them to use the 'I told you so' argument to draw more of them off modern mentalities. But those recruits will always be viewed as second class Muslims. Believe me, if we could exctract Mecca and Medina out of Saudi Arabia, that country would then cease to exist, along the Barbarians concealed there...