Leaders react to shooting deaths of 3 Muslim students
Posted February 11, 2015
Updated February 12, 2015
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The shooting deaths of three Muslim college students in Chapel Hill on Tuesday night has prompted widespread reaction from political leaders and others across the country.
Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his 21-year-old wife, Yusor Mohammad; and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, were shot in the head in the couple’s condominium on Summerwalk Circle.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who lives in the complex, turned himself in hours after the crime.He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
The father of the slain girls said he believes his daughters and son-in-law were targets of a hate crime, and Durham District Attorney Roger Echols said he is not ruling out the possibility. Police have said a preliminary investigation revealed an ongoing parking dispute might have led to the shootings.
Here are some of the statements released in the wake of the crimes:
"Senseless acts like this go against all of our beliefs. As I wrote in my most recent web letter to the campus community, a core value of NC State is respect for diversity in all its forms. We strive to maintain an environment where everyone feels safe, respected and valued." – North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson
“I am saddened by the senseless acts that happened yesterday evening in Chapel Hill," said Governor McCrory. "My prayers are with the families and friends of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha." – North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory
"Today, the world lost three beautiful souls just as they were entering the prime of their lives. This is a great tragedy for the Syrian-American community, for Arab Americans and for all Americans, and we mourn all three of them as one of our own. We also wish to honor the victims' devotion to helping the neediest Syrians and to uplifting the Syrian people." – Mirna Barq, president of the Syrian American Counsel
“Susan and I join other North Carolinians and people across the nation in praying for the families of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha as they bear the pain of this terrible tragedy and the loss of three young lives.” – U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC
"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. Our heartfelt condolences go to the families and loved ones of the victims and to the local community." – Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
“I share strong feelings of outrage and shock with my fellow citizens and University students – as well as concerned people everywhere. We do not know whether anti-Muslim bias played a role in this crime, but I do recognize the fear that members of our community may feel. Chapel Hill is a place for everyone, a place where Muslim lives matter. These deaths represent an incomprehensible loss. I believe that we can find strength by acknowledging the fear and outrage that this act instills, coming together to ask difficult questions and lifting up all people in our community who are hurting.” – Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt
“Such an act of violence goes against the very fiber of our community and society. It also creates a sense of vulnerability for all of us, especially members of the Muslim community. I am in touch with the Muslim community and students and will continue to be in conversation with them. While the Chapel Hill police continue to gather facts, Carolina has and will remain focused on supporting all members of our community… My gratitude goes to all of you for your understanding and kindness as our community draws strength from one another at this very difficult time.” – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt
“Last night’s tragic events have left three dead and our community in mourning. My prayers are with their families. I have faith that law enforcement will assemble the facts and ensure that justice is carried out on behalf of those murdered.” – U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC
“I join our community in shock and sorrow at the shooting of three students in Chapel Hill last night, and in the desire to reach out to the families, friends and classmates of the victims. 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.” – U.S. Rep. David Price, D-NC
“I am shocked and deeply saddened by the senseless murder of the two UNC students and N.C. State student near the UNC campus last night. Though the details of this horrific crime are still unclear, one thing remains true – the victims were our North Carolina neighbors, classmates and friends; and so we will mourn. By all accounts, these three young people were not only exceptional students, but they also dedicated much of their time towards local and international charitable endeavors. Such a loss hurts us all deeply.
"At this time, we must respect the police departments who are handling the investigation, and have patience as we wait for the facts. For now, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims' families and friends, and with our extended Tar Heel and Wolfpack families." – N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland
“As a mother of two children, I cannot imagine the sorrow that the Abu-Salha and Barakat families are grappling with. As you come together today to honor your children’s legacy, please know that I mourn with you. I extend my deepest sympathies to you and your families. Your children’s commitment to service and scholarship will not be forgotten.” – U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, D-NC
"My heart aches for the parents and loved ones and friends of Yusor Abu-Salha, Razan Abu-Salha, and Deah Barakat.My heart aches for the parents and loved ones and friends of Yusor Abu-Salha, Razan Abu-Salha, and Deah Barakat. ... I hope we all will look to the youth and how they are leading us in this place. See them praying together. See them crying together. See them loving together. Muslims. Christians. Hindus. Jews. Buddhists. Youthful believers, non-believers but deeply moral and youthful seekers of some faith to get them through the insanity that invades our world too often.
"Our children turn to each other, rather than on each other. They call for love, not revenge. They turn to love, not hate. Will we follow them? Let us pray that we will because only perfect love can cast out the pain and hurt when that which we fear the most comes upon us." – Rev. William Barber, NC NAACP president