Local News

14 firearms seized from Chapel Hill shootings suspect's home

Posted February 13, 2015

— Investigators seized more than a dozen firearms and a cache of ammunition from the Chapel Hill home of a man charged with killing three students this week, according to search warrants released Friday.

Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were found dead Tuesday evening at the newlywed couple's home about 3 miles from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who lived in the same condominium complex as the victims, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He is being held at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Police searched Hicks' home the night of the shootings and found two fully loaded handguns, a fully loaded AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, two shotguns, five other rifles, two other handguns and two pellet guns, according to one search warrant. They also found numerous magazines with varying amounts of ammunition, boxes of ammunition, shotgun shells, BBs, gun scopes and other gun-related items, the warrant states.

Aside from the weapons, investigators seized two desktop computers, three cellphones and a digital camera, according to the warrant.

Hicks described himself in online posts as a "gun-toting atheist."

According to the search warrants, a woman flagged down police and directed them to Barakat's and Yusor Abu-Salha's condo, saying her friend was bleeding. When officers arrived, they found Barakat dead in the front doorway bleeding from the head; one of the sisters was found in the kitchen, and the other was in the doorway to the kitchen.

A witness outside told police that he heard shots and saw a man leaving the condo and driving off in a gold car, the warrant states.

Police found eight shell casings in the living room of the condo and a bullet somewhere inside, according to a second warrant. They also seized three cellphones, a watch, two sets of keys and Barakat's wallet and keychain.

Hicks surrendered to law enforcement in Pittsboro, and investigators swabbed the driver's door handle and steering wheel of his Nissan for evidence, along with seizing his vehicle registration and insurance card, a third warrant states.

Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were at the condo complex Thursday, but they wouldn't say whether they are conducting their own investigation.

Local investigators met Friday morning with FBI agents and federal and Durham County prosecutors to discuss the case. The FBI opened an inquiry into the shootings on Thursday, while the Civil Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice opened a parallel investigation late Friday.

Hicks' charges could go before a Durham County grand jury as early as Monday, but prosecutors said they haven't decided yet whether to pursue the death penalty.

Stephen Freedman, an attorney with the state Capital Defender's Office, has been assigned to represent Hicks. He declined to comment Friday other than to say that he met with Hicks on Wednesday.


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  • William Campbell Feb 15, 2015
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    It is not surprising that a liberal atheist animal rights wacko studying law would go on a murderous rampage.

  • Ed McKim Feb 15, 2015
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    Are some of you implying that Hicks' violence is somehow justified by a link the victim's father had to a mosque, which he likely never knew about, since it was reported after the murders by an entirely unreliable and extremely biased dumpster-fire of a website run by Chuck C Johnson?

  • Alan Baker Feb 15, 2015
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    We do so often hear about those violent leftist hotheads going off on stabbing rampages...

    Hicks executed three people with a gun. It requires no anthropomorphizing and only the barest minimum of common sense to recognize his other firearms are relevant to the case and should be examined to determine whether they might be connected to other crimes. Everything else, the car analogies, the claims of "breathless reporting" and the inevitable knife comparison are just the usual trite soundbites that get dragged out whenever Americans are murdered by guns and the accused matches the approved skin tones. (See also: smearing the victims, as several posters are doing elsewhere.)

  • John Jay Feb 15, 2015
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    A sock balled up in another sock is a firearm to hoplophobes. Besides, why left facts get in the way of a tragedy to push an agenda?

  • David Hedricks Feb 15, 2015
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    Owning firearms and ammunition isn't illegal. The guy snapped, plain and simple.

  • John Jay Feb 15, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    Couldn't have said it better, but the people with agendas and phobias will never see it that way.

  • Chris Ellis Feb 15, 2015
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    The lawfully owned property of a person has no bearing on their actions. Would they be reporting this story the same way if he had six months worth of food stored away? I doubt it. Does owning multiple cars make me NASCAR competitor? Certainly not. This story is pure sensationalism aimed at a smearing millions of law abiding gun owners with the same broad brush they're trying to paint this lunatic with. Judge him based on his actions and sentence him appropriately and swiftly.

  • Arlington Stringham Feb 15, 2015
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    " I'd say knowing he had a fully-loaded semi-automatic rifle waiting for him at home might have some bearing on the story."People like to anthropomorphizing scary guns into acting on their own but now we are supposed to believe that the AR-15 was a co-conspirator "waiting" for him to report back.

    In reality this is just lazy reporting. Someone took the search warrant and turned it into a news article. It gets turned into breathless reporting on an "arsenal" of bb pellets.

    In reality this guy was a violent, leftist hot heat. He would have been trouble if he had 20 guns or just a knife on his belt.

  • Bob Cooke Feb 15, 2015
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    I agree with some of the other posters here. Why stop with the guns...take all the kitchen knives, hammers, and even the pressure cookers......at least they got those awful pellet guns.

  • Alan Baker Feb 14, 2015
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    You're right. However, nowhere in print will you find that Elvis was present during the crime either. If you find evidence of either him or your mythical firearm being in the house, please do let us know.