A shooting that left three young Muslims dead is shaking the North Carolina community of Chapel Hill.
Shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Chapel Hill police began receiving calls reporting screams and multiple gunshots coming from a unit in the condominium complex adjacent to the University of North Carolina. When police arrived they found the bodies of three students: husband and wife Deah Barakat and Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, as well as Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, Yusor’s younger sister.
The couple’s neighbor, 46-year-old used car parts salesman Craig Stephen Hicks, was arrested shortly thereafter and charged with their deaths. Police say the shooting appears to be motivated by a longstanding feud over the couple’s use of guest parking spaces.
Dan Barkin, senior editor for The News & Observer in Raleigh North Carolina tells Take Two that neighbors had previously expressed concern over Hicks’ disconcerting behavior. “We know that he was well known to the residents of this condo complex as an angry man--a man who was obsessed about parking violations of all things. They even had a community meeting that they surreptitiously held in this complex last year because people felt unsafe. “
Substantiating revelations is a recent posting about the incident by Yusor’s friend Amira Ata, detailing an incident in which Hicks showed up at the couple’s door with a rifle, visibly upset that they were playing a board game too loudly.
Even after learning about the couple’s history with Hicks, friends, family and many members of the Muslim community aren’t convinced that the shootings were motivated merely by parking spaces and noise complaints.
Edina Lekovic is public affairs consultant with the Muslim Public Affairs Council and she tells Take Two, “The law enforcement has immediately jumped to ‘well, it was a dispute over a parking spot,’ when there is just obviously so much more detail in the story that should be investigated.”
Still, in a recently-held news conference, Hicks’ wife Karen contends that the incident “had nothing to do with religion or the victims’ faith …"
In a statement given after the shooting, Deah Barakat’s sister Suzanne Barakat calls the slain students “gems” of the community. “We are still in a state of shock and will never be able to make sense of this horrendous tragedy.”