Chapel Hill Shooting

It was a tragedy that shocked Chapel Hill and the world. On February 10th, 2015, three Muslim American students were shot and killed at the Finley Forest Condominiums in Chapel Hill, resulting in mourning both locally and across the globe.

The deaths of Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19, rattled the local community and canvassed the world through social media with the power of tags like #ChapelHillShooting.

This selection collects news and features from WUNC News, The State of Things and other sources.

Ways to Connect

Rafeef Ziadah is a Palestinian poet and human rights activist living in London. Her poem, “We Teach Life, Sir,” is powerful and poignant reminder of the human condition in conflict. 

On this bonus episode of Stories with a Heartbeat, host Will McInerney reflects on some of the stories from our past episodes covering the Chapel Hill Shooting in season 1. Rafeef's beautiful and moving poetry is emblematic of the legacy and the lasting message of life that Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha, and Razan Abu Salha left behind. Listen to Rafeef's poem with the link below. 

Volunteers from Project Refugee Smile watch Turkish residents take to the street during the coup.
Farris Barakat

It’s been an eventful few days for Raleigh native Farris Barakat. He’s in southern Turkey, working with Project Refugee Smiles, a volunteer group that provides dental care to Syrians in refugee camps.

Photo: Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and Razan Abu Salha
Our Three Winners

On February 10th, 2015, Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha were shot and killed execution-style in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Their neighbor, Craig Hicks, was quickly arrested and charged with the crime. But what happened that night? Why? And what does it mean for us now?

Poet Mohammad Moussa believes his friend Deah Barakat was murdered in a hate crime; and he refuses to remain silent. Shattered Glass, Mohammad’s multi-media spoken word poetry show is a year of reflection and mourning wrapped in the power of storytelling and signed with a poet’s pen. It’s a demand for answers and accountability, and it’s a journey that leaves us both broken and whole.

Was the Chapel Hill Shooting a parking dispute or a hate crime? In this episode of Stories with a Heartbeat we talk about apologies and personal connections with two people at the heart of this question, reporter Reema Khrais and Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue.

Subscribe to this Podcast

Stories with a Heartbeat logo
WUNC / WUNC

Stories with a Heartbeat is a new WUNC podcast about the human condition in conflict. Host Will McInerney is an award-winning poet who travels the globe exploring conflict and what it says about us as people. Stories with a Heartbeat taps into the power of poetry, stories, music, and conversation to help us decipher conflict and find meaning.  

In episode three, we follow Farris Barakat to Reyhanli, Turkey where he is working to complete his brother's mission and help Syrian refugee kids smile. 

Subscribe to this Podcast

  Stories with a Heartbeat is a new podcast hosted by poet Will McInerney that explores the human condition in conflict through poetry, listening, and conversation.

In episode two, host Will McInerney talks with reporter Reema Khrais about her personal connections to the Chapel Hill Shootings, and Will travels to the Syrian border to visit a dental clinic named in honor of Deah, Yusor, and Razan. 

Subscribe to this Podcast

In episode one, host Will McInerney talks with Farris Barakat about the night his brother Deah was killed along with Deah's wife Yusor Abu-Salha and sister-in-law Razan Abu-Salha. All three Muslim-Americans were shot execution style in their home. 

Subscribe to this Podcast

Craig Stephen Hicks at an April 6th court hearing.
Reema Khrais

The murder of three Muslim American students in Chapel Hill in February 2015 became world news as the victims’ families and many onlookers identified the shootings as an act of hatred against their religion.

Yusor Abu-Salha, Deah Barakat and Razan-Abu-Salha were murdered on Feb, 10th, 2015.
Yasmine Inaya, Deah Barakat, Nida Allam / Facebook

One of Yusor Abu-Salha’s favorite foods was butter chicken, an Indian dish. She was a movie buff and ‘Saturday Night Live’ was her go-to show.

Her friends describe her as someone with a solid sense of humor – she had an affinity for pulling pranks and sending colorful Snapchats.

“She had a lot of swag,” her friend, Morjan Rahhal, remembers. 

An image of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and Razan Abu Salha
Our Three Winners / Facebook

One year ago, three young Muslim-Americans were shot and killed in their Chapel Hill apartment. Support for the victims' families poured in following the shooting, while public debate raised questions about the shooter's motives.

Today, friends and family of the victims continue the charitable works Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha started.

Photo: Yusor, left, and Razan Abu-Salha at the beach
Razan Abu-Salha/ Instagram

Yusor and Razan Abu-Salha were like many young sisters. Yusor, 21, liked going to the beach. Razan, 19, liked recording five-second videos of her and friends and posting them on the Internet. And they were so close that in the first month after Yusor got married and moved from their family home, Razan drove 50 miles at least a half dozen times to visit.

Photo: Farris Barakat
Reema Khrais

When Deah Barakat was an undergraduate at NC State University, his father bought him a white house about five miles from campus. But Deah, who lived with his parents, didn’t move in: He rented out the house and collected rent.

Photo: Suzanne Barakat
The Moth Radio Hour/ Ian Tervet

On the day of her youngest brother’s wedding, Suzanne Barakat combed his hair, held him and watched him dance in a ballroom with his new life partner.

She thought about how her 23-year-old brother, Deah, was no longer a lanky, basketball-obsessed teenager who struggled to focus on school. He had transformed into a well-rounded, ambitious student at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry and was marrying someone who shared his passion.

NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Farris Barakat, who lost relatives in the Chapel Hill, N.C., shooting. He recently visited a Syrian refugee camp to honor his brother's legacy.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt speaks to a group of mostly UNC Muslim students during a dinner intended to promote dialogue and encourage connections.
Catherine Lazorko

Aisha Anwar remembers when she attended a campus lecture last year as a UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore. She was one of the only Muslims in the crowd. The guest speaker gave a talk about Catholicism, and then touched on Islam.

“And concluded with some really, you know, I would say intellectually irresponsible conclusions,” she says.

A picture of Yusor Abu-Salha and Deah Barakat
UNC School of Dentistry

It's a good thing the Dental School at UNC-Chapel Hill canceled class today, because more than 350 students spent the morning doing community service work instead.

They were volunteering  in memory of their late classmate, Deah Barakat and his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, who planned to enroll this fall. The couple and Yusor's sister Razan were killed in February of this year.

Omar Abdelbaky  is a fourth-year dental student at UNC, and one of the organizers of DEAH DAY. That stands for "Directing Efforts And Honoring Deah And Yusor."

Jorge Valencia

Last month, volunteers from North Carolina and across the country gave free dental treatment to refugees near Turkey’s border with Syria. The trip had been organized by Deah Barakat, one of the three young Muslim Americans killed in Chapel Hill February of this year. After Deah and Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha were fatally shot, Project Refugee Smiles received more than half a million dollars in donations. The group of volunteers treated more than 700 people.

Dr. Sarah Arif of Cleveland and Farris Barakat help a boy at the temporary Syrian American Medical Society dental clinic at the Al-Salaam School in Reyhanli.
Alena Advic

Months before his neighbor barged into his Chapel Hill apartment and fatally shot him, his wife and his sister-in-law, Deah Barakat had decided he wanted to help people escaping the war in Syria.

Deah, a 23-year-old student at the University Of North Carolina School Of Dentistry, had seen and heard about the escalating violence ravaging parts of his parents’ native country, so he called a dentist who was running clinics for displaced Syrians, and he told him: he wanted to take Americans to the Middle East and treat refugees.

A seflie of reporter Jorge Valencia with dentists in Syria
Jorge Valencia

A few weeks ago, WUNC reporter Jorge Valencia boarded a series of planes and buses en route to Reyhanli, a small city on the Turkish side of the Turkey-Syria border.

He was following a group of American dentists and students who were willing to travel into a dicey part of the world to complete a task: they wanted to carry out a mission that had been planned by Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha -- aspiring dentists who’d been planning on giving free care to refugees of the war in Syria before they were murdered by a neighbor in Chapel Hill this year.

Speculation on motive surrounds the killings of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha.
Our Three Winners' Facebook page / Facebook.com

Autopsies indicate that a man charged with killing three Muslim college students held his gun to the heads of two victims when he pulled the trigger after shooting the first in the doorway.
Autopsies released Wednesday say 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, died of contact wounds to the head, indicating the gun was very close to or against their scalps.

The older woman was shot in the top of the head. Her sister was shot in the back of the head.

Eighth-grade students Yasmine Boufedji, Angelycia Bogart, Dunya Alkaissi, and Nassir Jordan.
Reema Khrais

As principal Mussarut Jabeen makes her way to the playground, two very young girls run to her, pleading for undivided attention. The first shows off a temporary henna tattoo.

“Oh look at your henna, it’s so pretty,” exclaims Jabeen, principal of Al-Iman, a private Islamic school in Raleigh.

The other girl has just fallen and scraped herself.

“Oh, my little,” Jabeen says. “How about we wash it?”

A picture of a syringe.
hitthatswitch / Flickr

Earlier this week, a judge in North Carolina determined the Craig Steven Hicks would be eligible for the death penalty for his role in the shootings of three students in Chapel Hill.  But the state of North Carolina has not put anyone to death since 2006.  The state is one of 34 in the country that allows the death penalty, but the practice here is rarely used.  That was not always the case.

Gun wall featuring rifles and assault riffles.
Michael Saechang - flickr.com/photos/saechang

Craig Stephen Hicks, the man accused of killing three young people in Chapel Hill this February, could face the death penalty. A Durham County Superior Court judge ruled Monday that the prosecution brought forth enough incriminating evidence to make him eligible for a death sentence.

Craig Stephen Hicks at an April 6th court hearing.
Reema Khrais

The suspect in the fatal shootings of three young Muslim-Americans in a Chapel Hill apartment in February is eligible to receive the death penalty if convicted, a Durham County Superior Court judge said on Monday.

Durham County District Attorney Assistant Jim Dornfried gave a more detailed narrative of the shooting, explaining that Craig Stephen Hicks had the blood of one of the shooting victims and gunshot residue on his clothes. 

Hicks is charged with the killings of Razan Abu-Salha, 19; her sister, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and her husband, 23-year-old Deah Barakat.

Photo: Firearms
Jorge Valencia

The suspect in this year’s murder of three young people in a Chapel Hill apartment is scheduled for his second court appearance today.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged in the fatal shooting of three young people in the apartment next to his in the Finley Forest neighborhood of Chapel Hill. According to search warrants, authorities found three airsoft guns and 11 firearms in his home, including pistols shotguns and one AR-15 assault rifle with a fully-loaded magazine.

A hand made sign in Turkey
Will McInerney

On February 10, Razan Abu-Salha, her sister Yusor Abu-Salha and Yusor's husband Deah Barakat were shot and killed in their home in Chapel Hill. Deah and Yusor were both preparing to be dentists and felt called to help Syrian refugees in need of dental care.

Chapel Hill Poet Will McInerney and Mike Mallah are traveling in the Middle East this month documenting the work of the Syrian American Medical Society.  He sent us this postcard.  It's part of a project called Stories with a Heartbeat.

The Chapel Hill Shootings Resonate In Poetry

Mar 16, 2015
Fidaa Abu Roob, photo by Will McInerney
Will McInerney photo

It's been a month since news broke that three young Muslims were shot to death in Chapel Hill.   For poet Will McInerney, it hit especially hard.  He’s from Chapel Hill, knew the victims through friends, and like many, has been trying to sort it out.  

This month Will McInerney and translator Mike Mallah are traveling across the Middle East and working with the Syrian American Medical Society and the Palestine Children's Relief Fund. Their project, Stories with a Heartbeat, documents the work of medical NGO's through creative storytelling and photography. 

He sent us this Poetic reflection on what it's like to be in the region and say: "I'm from Chapel Hill."


Pages