The suspect in last week’s fatal Chapel Hill, North Carolina, shootings was indicted on three counts of murder by a grand jury Monday. Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was charged with shooting three young Muslims in their apartment last Tuesday before turning himself in to police.
Hicks was charged on three counts of first-degree murder, and one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, according to Angela Kelly, assistant clerk of the Durham County Superior Court.
The victims, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were neighbors of Hicks. Barakat was a dental student at the University of North Carolina, while Razan Abu-Salha was a student at North Carolina State University. Their apartment was located about 2 miles from the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill.
Police initially said the shooting was the result of an ongoing “parking dispute,” though local investigators, the FBI and federal prosecutors have opened a wider investigation after a national and international outcry from Muslim groups and others who believe the attack was a hate crime.
Hicks, who had been a paralegal student at Durham Technical Community College, had described himself as a “gun-toting” atheist on his Facebook page and often posted screeds against religion, including Islam and Christianity.
His wife, Karen Hicks, who has since filed for divorce, said that religion did not play a role in the shooting, describing Hicks as a “champion of Second Amendment rights” who “believed everyone was equal.”