Thursday, February 12, 2015
North Carolina Muslim Family of 3 Murdered
Deah Shaddy Barakat, right his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, in an undated Facebook photo.
Three members of a Muslim family shot to death Tuesday in their home near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus may have been killed over a parking dispute.
The suspect, 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks, surrendered and was arrested on charges of first-degree murder. He is accused of killing Deah Barakat, 23, Barakat's wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Yusor's sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19.
On Wednesday, police said the motive behind the shooting may have been an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking, rather than a hate crime.
In a press conference, Hicks' wife of seven years, Karen, said she "never would have expected this." She said that the shooting had nothing to do with race or religion, and everything to do with parking problems.
"This incident had nothing to do with religion or victims’ faith but instead had to do with the longstanding parking disputes that my husband had with the neighbors," she said, choking back tears. "He often champions on his Facebook page for the rights of many individuals. Same sex marriages, abortion, race, he just believes that everyone is equal. Doesn’t matter what you look like or who you are or what you believe."
She said she didn't know what drove Hicks to allegedly shoot three people, but her lawyers said that the suspect didn't single out the victims and had problems with other neighbors in the past. Hicks' ex-wife, Kristen, told The Huffington Post that she hadn't "heard from or seen him in 10 years," and had no further comment.
Still, the father of two victims, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, believes hate led to the killings.
"It was execution style, a bullet in every head," he told the News Observer. "This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt. And they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far."