A North Carolina man was charged with three counts of first-degree murder for shooting three Muslim students in their Chapel Hill house on Tuesday, reports said. Police responded to a call of gunfire shots near the University of North Carolina around 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has reportedly been accused of killing the three, who have been identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. Barakat and Yusor had married just two months back and the three of them were living together in a house near the university.
Hicks handed himself in Tuesday night, The Independent reported.
All three victims, who studied at the University of North Carolina, were shot in the head, according to a report by WRAL.com. Razan was reportedly a sophomore and had graduated from Athens Drive High School in Raleigh. Barakat was studying dentistry and had also volunteered with a charity to provide free dental supplies to children in Palestine. According to her Facebook page, Yusor was studying human biology at the university. She was reportedly planning to begin her dental studies this fall.
Investigators, however, have not yet determined the reason behind the shooting. Hicks, who is being held without a bond in Durham County jail, will make his first court appearance Wednesday morning, WRAL.com, a CNN affiliate, reported.
"It’s a really quiet community, a lot of graduate students, professionals and families. I thought it was pretty safe," Bethany Boring, a resident of the building, where the incident took place, said, according to The Independent.
One of the tweets by Barakat was widely circulated on social media, following the incident. Many people believed that the shooting was a hate crime, Fox News reported.
It's so freaking sad to hear people saying we should "kill Jews" or "Kill Palestinians". As if that's going to solve anything SMH
— Deah Barakat (@arabprodigy30) January 28, 2015
Tweets showed outrage over the incident and some comparisons were drawn on social networking websites with the January attacks in France, which killed 20 people, including three gunmen.
This is heart breaking, I pray justice is served inshaaAllah #ChappelHillShooting
— sundus (@sundusarif1) February 11, 2015
#chappelhillshooting my heart goes out to the victims.May Allah grant them jannah.Hpe the outcry wil be similar to that of France
— Mausifan (@mausifan) February 11, 2015
#ChappelHillShooting is another example of how a 'mentally disturbed' white man commits atrocities and wont be called a terrorist.
— DeadShot (@SyedMohsinnn) February 11, 2015