CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Three people were shot to death at a quiet condominium complex near the University of North Carolina, and the suspect was scheduled for a court appearance Wednesday — though police had not yet released a motive or given details of the crime.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was arrested and has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder, Chapel Hill police told local news outlets. He is being held at the Durham County Jail and was expected to make a first court appearance Wednesday morning.
About 5:15 a.m. Tuesday, police responded to a report of gunshots. They found three people who were pronounced dead at the scene. They were identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill; Yusor Mohammad, 21, of Chapel Hill; and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh.
Barakat was a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s School of Dentistry while the Mohammad sisters were students at North Carolina State University, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
Can you imagine how ballistic things would be if the shooter was named Mohammad and the victims were named Hicks?
A new hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter started to trend on Twitter in response to the shooting. The murders are already serving to remind us what people forget — Muslims are terrorist victims too.
And although it still is early, this appears to be terrorism. Early speculation is that Hicks singled these people out because they were Muslim.
Whether that is true or not remains to be seen. Hicks apparently was not a Christian — rather, he was a militant atheist, professing on the social media to have a strong dislike of both Christian and Muslim extremists. Here’s his Facebook banner:
And — not surprisingly, he was a gun nut:
Still, if this was an anti-religion killing, it remains an open question why his rage centered on just Muslims, and in particular, these Muslims.
UPDATE: As with lots of early reporting, we see diverse information pointing in different directions. Police are now saying “an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking” may have compelled Craig Stephen Hicks to allegedly carry out the attack Tuesday evening. The basis for this possibility is not known.
UPDATE: As stated above, one of the victims — Deah Shaddy Barakat — was a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s School of Dentistry. He can be seen in this video here urging people to donate money for the cause of Syrian dental relief. Many people (including you?) are seeing fit to contribute today in his memory.