NC State mourns slain Muslim students
Posted February 12, 2015
Updated February 13, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — The setting for Thursday night’s vigil was fitting for Dr. Suzanne Barakat.
Speaking inside The Brickyard, N.C. State University’s popular student gathering spot, Barakat reflected on her brother, sisters-in-law and their connection to the school.
“My brother is a diehard Wolfpack fan, and in his memory, Razan, and Yusor’s, who are also Wolfpacks, I just wanted to say go Wolfpack,” she said.
Hundreds huddled in the cold in memory of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. Each were found shot in the head Tuesday evening at Finley Forest condominiums on Summerwalk Circle in Durham County.
Their neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who has described himself as a "gun-toting atheist," is charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
Barakat and his wife met while undergraduates at N.C. State, where Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha was a current student. Barakat was a dental student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; his wife planned to join him in the fall.
Vigils were also held Thursday night in Washington, D.C. and at East Carolina and Elon universities.
Thursday’s vigils followed a funeral and prayer service for the victims that was attended by an estimated 5,500 mourners.
Relatives viewed the victims' bodies in a small building apart from one of Raleigh's largest mosques, where the Muslim families have long been members. Then — because of the sizeable crowd — the service was moved across the street to athletic fields owned by N.C. State.
On Wednesday, about 2,000 people gathered inside The Pit, a popular student gathering spot at UNC, for a vigil honoring the three students.
Many held candles as friends and family spoke to the crowd.
"I plead that you live in their legacy, that you share the good that you know of them, and take the message my mom wanted to make public and do not fight fire with fire," Farris Barakat, Deah’s brother, said Wednesday.
Gov. Pat McCrory shared a similar message during Thursday’s vigil.
“I am also here to say thank you to the students of two wonderful universities representing our state, sending a message that violence is not acceptable to anyone, any place, anywhere,” he said.