Local News

Chapel Hill police: Parking dispute may have led to triple shooting

Posted February 10, 2015
Updated April 28, 2016

— Chapel Hill police said Wednesday that an ongoing dispute over parking may have led to a triple shooting Tuesday night at a condominium complex on Summerwalk Circle.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

Hicks turned himself in to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office in Pittsboro following the shooting, which happened in the Finley Forest complex off Barbee Chapel Road shortly after 5 p.m.

All three victims were shot in the head, sources said.

The three victims were Muslim, and Hicks is not, according to posts about atheism on his Facebook page. In thousands of posts on social media, many have now questioned whether the victims' Islamic faith was a factor in the shooting.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest civil advocacy group for Muslims, called on law enforcement officials Wednesday to address speculation about a motive for the killings.

"Based on the brutal nature of this crime, the past anti-religion statements of the alleged perpetrator, the religious attire of two of the victims and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in American society, we urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in this case," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. "Our heartfelt condolences go to the families and loved ones of the victims and to the local community."

Police said Wednesday that they are looking into what led to the "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," Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these young people who lost their lives so needlessly."

U.S. Rep David Price, D-NC, released a statement Wednesday about the shooting, expressing his condolences to the community and referencing the possibility of the crime being motivated by bias.

"This appalling act of violence has shaken our community's sense of peace and reminded us once again that we still face serious barriers to mutual acceptance. We must redouble our efforts to bridge the gaps of intolerance and hatred that divide our society," Price said.

Hicks had a first court appearance Wednesday and was being held without bond at the Durham County jail. His next court date is scheduled for March 4, and officials said he is cooperating with the investigation.

Barakat, a second-year dental student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, married Yusor Mohammad in late December, according to school officials. Barakat got an business administration degree from North Carolina State University in the spring of 2013.

According to a page on YouCaring.com, a free online fundraising website, Barakat was one of the organizers of an effort to raise money to provide free dental care to students of the Salaam School in Turkey. Barakat and others were scheduled to travel to Turkey in the summer of 2015 to treat children who have become refugees due to the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Mohammad graduated from NC State in December with a degree in biological sciences, and officials at UNC said she was planning to begin dental studies in Chapel Hill this fall.

Abu-Salha, Mohammad's younger sister, was a sophomore at NC State and a graduate of Athens Drive High School in Raleigh. University officials said she was majoring in design.

"On behalf of the entire NC State community, I'd like to extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad and Razan Abu-Salha," NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson said in statement.

Woodson said counselors would be available to assist the NC State community. They can be reached at 919-515-2423.

A memorial page honoring the way the victims lived their lives was started on Facebook early Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Durham Technical Community College said Wednesday that Hicks has been enrolled at the school since 2012 studying for a paralegal certification.

The shootings came as a surprise to Bethany Boring, who encountered police cars, crime scene tape and people visibly upset when she stepped out of her home to walk her dog.

"It's a very quiet community," she said. "It's a lot of graduate and professional students. You know, professional's families."

Daniel Waggoner echoed Boring's description of the neighborhood.

"I'm up late. I come home late, and it's always quiet when I get here," he said. "So I mean, yeah, it's surprising."

A campus crime alert from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was sent to students. The complex is located near campus.


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  • Vernon Messer Feb 12, 2015
    user avatar

    Yes, the killer was an atheist, but the authors chose to omit he was also a follower of liberal causes like Occupy Wall Street. Too bad these other FB posts he made destroyed the narrative (hate crime committed by a conservative) causing the writers to minimize this fact.

  • Alexia Proper Feb 11, 2015
    user avatar

    If the guy is an atheist, then why would he care what kind of religion they followed? I doubt it was a hate crime.

  • David Martin Feb 11, 2015
    user avatar

    Why don't we just wait for the facts before we call this a hate muslim crime. Have we all not learned enough to not jump to conclusions!!!! That being said, my kids went and go to Athens Drive in Raleigh (where girls when to HS), knew them and we even had the younger girl to my house for a cross-country chow-down meal

  • Fred Garner Feb 11, 2015
    user avatar

    I hardly think that CAIR had to tell LE officials that. My first thought was a hate crime. My second thought was I hope not!
    Ignorance and hate is not what we as the most advanced country on earth should tolerate.
    May God, Allah, the Creator have mercy on the victims families. And may He persecute the killer in due time.

  • Ijaz Fahted Feb 11, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    This whole "they" "them" thing is just dumb. "They" are not all other Muslims "around the globe". They were students at UNC just trying to further their education.

    Are they not victims?!?! They were gunned down in cold blood, if that doesn't make them a victim them I don't know what will.

    You seem to be hung up on this while "one Muslim = all Muslims around the world". They are NOT all Muslim people, you are making a terrible generalization. This is YOUR problem and you need to get it in check.

    "What goes around comes around..."

    What?!? Just what did these three people do to deserve to die? What goes around is your poor attitude towards your fellow human beings based on your own prejudices.

    Grow up, you live in a world where everyone is different and you need to get that through your thick skull.

  • Matt Price Feb 11, 2015
    user avatar

    So - we have a problem here. This is nothing more than a get even murder. He murdered them to get even for what ever they did to him - and all the junk on TV about beheading.

    On another note - this guy is an extremist leftist. His facebook page is all the rage of Rachel Maddow, and all of the other nuts.

    So - make a mental note - being lefty, he probably thought he was doing society a favor. Which is likely to come out in Court.

  • Proudly Unaffiliated Feb 11, 2015
    user avatar

    Eve Carson was also killed in Chapel Hill but by Durham residents. Looks pretty home grown to me so far with no Durham connection. Weird but I guess tolerance has its limits.

  • Crystal Stewart Feb 11, 2015
    user avatar

    Prayers for the families of the victims. Regardless of their religion, this is so very sad.

  • Sean Creasy Feb 11, 2015
    user avatar

    "Based on the brutal nature of this crime, the past anti-religion statements of the alleged perpetrator, the religious attire of two of the victims and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in American society, we urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in this case," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement
    Read more at http://www.wral.com/chapel-hill-police-parking-dispute-may-have-led-to-triple-shooting/14438074/#1yceHFd2dlpOSr0F.99............ If this is considered a hate crime then the Muslim guy who beheaded those people last year should be treated the same. Too many times so called "hate crimes" are not punished as such simply because of the color of the offender's skin. Equal justice means just that, everyone is subject to the law regardless of skin color, nationality, religious beliefs, etc...

  • Chris Mullins Feb 11, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Where did you get that he killed in the name of Atheism? It sounds like he just raged out over a parking space.