Parking dispute motivated shooting deaths of Muslims

Activists urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Wed 11 Feb 2015, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:44 PM

Chapel Hill police officers investigate the scene of three murders near Summerwalk Circle. -AP

Chapel Hill, North Carolina - An ongoing parking dispute between neighbours sparked the shooting deaths of three family members at a quiet condominium complex near the University of North Carolina campus, police said on Wednesday.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the Tuesday shooting, Chapel Hill police said. He is being held at the Durham County Jail and was expected to make a first court appearance Wednesday morning.

Police say Hicks is cooperating, and that their preliminary investigation showed that the parking dispute was the motive.

The victims were identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Razan Mohammad Abu Salha, 19.

Barakat and Mohammad were married, and Abu Salha was Mohammad’s sister, according to UNC.

Barakat was a second-year dental student there, and Yusor was scheduled to begin dental studies in the fall.

Both had graduated from North Carolina State University, school spokesman Mick Kulikowski said. Barakat graduated with a business administration degree in the spring of 2013. Mohammad graduated in December with a biological sciences degree.

Abu-Salha was a second-year design major who had started classes last fall, Kulikowski said.

The neighbourhood where they were found — immediately east of campus — consists mostly of apartments and condominiums rented by students. Neighbours there said on Wednesday morning that never before seen police or had crime problems.

“It’s a very quiet community,” resident Bethany Boring told WRAL-TV. “It’s a lot of graduate and professional students. You know, professional families.” 

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