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Friends, family carry on legacy of Chapel Hill shooting victims

Posted June 12, 2015
Updated June 13, 2015

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— More than four months after three Muslim students were gunned down in Chapel Hill, family and friends continue to carry on their legacy of community service.

"Deah translates from Arabic to English as light, so we are actually referring to this house as the lighthouse," Farris Barakat said.

His 23-year-old brother, Deah Shaddy Barakat – along with his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19 – died Feb. 10 after police say a neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, shot them in the head at the couple's condominium in Chapel Hill.

Community members worked Friday to renovate a Raleigh home Deah owned and used as a rental property. Farris Barakat said he wants to make the home a permanent part of the Raleigh community.

Family members, who have said they believe the triple shooting was a hate crime, say they want to take the focus off Hicks and put it on the three victims who left a legacy of kindness, love and generosity.

"Thirty years down the road we hope this project is still alive and helping out," Farris Barakat said.

Barakat said he plans to start a non-profit out of the home and believes it would represent his brother's legacy of community service and be a symbol to the Muslim faith.

"Part of the non-profit is basically to add more meaning and lessons to the public instead of always responding to negative things that happen," he said. "I want to share stories about what Islam really is."

Neighbors, including 12-year-old Jazzmyn Walker and her little brother leant a hand with the renovations.

"I enjoy it a lot and I think it's a really good thing to do for the community," she said.

"This house is a testament that we care about our local community and we want to give back all in the name of Deah, Yusor and Razan as well," Farris Barakat said.


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  • Anne Havisham Jun 13, 2015
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    I agree with you, Ms. Nunn.

    This is a touching memorial that allows the entire community to participate. It reaches into us and invites us to see beyond fear and sorrow so that we may contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

    May the good these actions are doing bring comfort to the families and friends of the three young people who were stolen from us too soon.

  • Phyllis Nunn Jun 13, 2015
    user avatar

    What a beautiful tribute, and such a wonderful family. I cannot imagine what they have been through. I admire their kind hearts so much.