Local News

Wife of triple-shooting suspect said crime not motivated by bias

Posted February 11, 2015

— The wife of a man charged in the shooting deaths of three Muslim college students said Wednesday that the crime wasn’t motivated by bias and that her husband believes in equality.

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

All three were found shot in the head Tuesday evening in the Finely Forest condominium complex in Durham County, where Barakat and his wife lived. Craig Hicks, who turned himself in to authorities, also lives in the complex.

Karen Hicks said she believes her husband might have snapped over an ongoing feud with neighbors over parking spaces. She said he came home Tuesday night from class at Durham Technical Community College, where he is a full-time paralegal student, and became upset because one of the victims’ car was parked in his spot.

“I can say, with my absolute belief, that this incident had nothing to do with religion or victims’ faith but, in fact, was related to the long-standing parking disputes that my husband had with the neighbors,” she said. 

Flanked by her attorneys, Karen Hicks held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to offer condolences to the victims’ families and dispel widespread speculation that the shootings were a hate crime. That speculation has been fueled by postings on Craig Hicks’ Facebook page in which he espouses his views on different religions, including Islam.

“We were married for seven years, and I know that it didn’t matter what your religion was, it didn’t matter what your race was, didn’t matter sexuality. He believed that everybody should be treated equally and fair,” Karen Hicks said.

Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols and Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said they have not ruled out bias as a motive in the crime, but a preliminary investigation indicates that the dispute over parking led to the shootings. The families of the victims, however, said they do not believe a fight over parking escalated to violence and have urged authorities to investigate the cases as hate crimes.

According to state records, Craig Hicks has a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun.

Karen Hicks is in the process of a divorce. Her attorney, Rob Maitland, who does not represent the suspect, said the shootings highlight the need for greater access to mental health care services. However, he did not address whether Craig Hicks has mental health issues.

The shootings have “nothing to do with anything but the mundane issue of this man being frustrated day in and day out with not being able to park where he wanted to park,” Maitland said. “And, unfortunately, these victims were there at the wrong time, at the wrong place. “

Susan Sutton, a paralegal instructor at Durham Tech, said Craig Hicks was in her class Tuesday afternoon and there was no indication anything was wrong.

“He was bright. He was conscientious. He was a good student. He always sat in the front row,” she said. “There was no indication there was anything unpleasant going on in his life.”

Sutton recently had back surgery and wears a brace. She said Craig Hicks would often ask her whether she needed any help.


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  • Derek Fisher Feb 12, 2015
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    So if a person that drinks and drives doesn't have a drivers license does that keep them from committing the crime?

  • Hope Lives Feb 12, 2015
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    I am tired of there being emphasis on the fact that they were Muslim students. It gives the false impression that this is why they were killed. It doesn't appear that was a factor in this situation and until it's determined otherwise, I don't think it is necessary to point out their religion as if that had something to do with it. If this situation were exactly the same but these were Christian students (or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist...), I don't think there would be any emphasis on the religion at all. It doesn't matter - three innocent, promising young lives were lost and that is all that matters here and that's how it should be reported.

  • Kerry Smith Feb 12, 2015
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    Wrong time at the wrong place??
    They were in their home!! Where they should feel safe!!

  • Dan Basset Feb 12, 2015
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    Are you serious, dude? Did he go over and kill those people with his concealed carry permit? You don't have to have a CCL to purchase or own a gun, and even if that were the case I don't think this guy would have acted differently. You really need to figure out what NC's gun laws are before you spout ignorance where the whole universe can see it.

    I have a concealed carry permit, and I can guarantee if somebody attacked me over a parking spot my obituary wouldn't be plastered all over WRAL the next day. It's a shame the victims didn't have CCLs or at least a weapon for home defense; things would have turned out much better if they had. If you don't like guns, nobody is forcing you to own one. But don't talk down to people who are interested in preserving their rights; especially when you clearly have no clue what you're talking about.

  • David Hartman Feb 12, 2015
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    Well said.

    Rose has no clue what he is talking about, but his delusions fits his anti-gun paradigm, which is all that matters.

  • David Hartman Feb 12, 2015
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    Obviously you have never seen, or been the victim of road-rage...

  • Sammy Macloud Feb 12, 2015
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    Since she has filed for divorce, I'm not real sure she knows her husbands feelings/thoughts. I feel sorry for her as I know she had nothing to do with it.

  • Ken Ackerman Feb 11, 2015
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    Christopher Rose, you are completely wrong in saying that if he did not have a conceal carry permit these people would be alive. You do not have to have a CCP to purchase a gun in NC and people that can't legally own guns are arrested almost on a daily basis with guns they purchased through illegal channels.
    Therefore, him being a concealed carry permit holder is completely irrelevant to this situation.

  • Christopher Rose Feb 11, 2015
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    But if he did not have a conceal carry permit three more people would be alive today. And he might have a better future. Of course I can't fathom why he just didn't have them towed.I had the same problem with a bunch of college kids when I was younger. Had them towed 3 times and at $150 a pop they finally quit doing it. An odd side effect of this will probably be that every college kid will make sure they don't park in somebody else assigned space tonight!

  • Forest Hazel Feb 11, 2015
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    "However, he did not address whether Craig Hicks has mental health issues."
    Hmmmm....... I vote yes on this question.