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.
Administrators at Al-Iman School in Raleigh where Yusor Abu-Salha, Razan Abu-Salha and Deah Barakat studied elementary and middle schools are creating a scholarship and awards fund in their memory.
The endowment, called "Our Three Winners," will be announced at an annual fundraiser on Saturday.
Yusor, her sister, Razan, and Yusor's husband, Barakat, were shot and killed in their Chapel Hill apartment on February 10. Prosecutors charged their neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, with three counts of first degree murder. They will seek the death penalty in the case.
Organizers say this weekend's food drive to honor the three students murdered in Chapel Hill last month was a success. Razan and Yusor Abu-Salha and Deah Barakat had been known for their community service efforts. Volunteers at the Islamic Association of Raleigh collected nearly 16,000 non-perishable food items. Organizer Nisma Gabr says, with cash donations, the local drive should be able to provide nearly 22,000 meals to people in need. The national Feed Their Legacy food drive will continue through March 27.
Durham County prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Craig Stephen Hicks if he is convicted of the fatal shooting of three young Muslim Americans in Chapel Hill last month.
Durham District Attorney Roger Echols filed a notice of intent last week in Durham County Superior Court, saying he would pursue the charges at a preliminary hearing to be scheduled for the week of April 6th.
North Carolina State University is creating a scholarship fund to honor Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha, three family members who were shot to death in Chapel Hill February 10. A neighbor, Craig Hicks, has been charged with first-degree murder.
“This is the first blessing and the first happy day after the tragedy,” said Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of Razan and Yusor, on Friday afternoon when university officials announced the new endowment.
In the days since the triple homicide of Chapel Hill residents Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha, two hashtags have surged through social media feeds: #chapelhillshooting and #muslimlivesmatter.
Craig Stephen Hicks was indicted Monday on three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of three young people in Chapel Hill. Deah Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, were shot to death inside their condominium in the Finley Forest community.
The parents of the deceased believe their children were targeted because of their faith. Chapel Hill police say the shooting was over an ongoing parking dispute, but local and federal law enforcement officials are still considering other motives like religious bias.
President Obama is renewing his support for Muslim-Americans in the wake of the shootings that killed three students in Chapel Hill last week. The White House is hosting a three-day summit on countering violent extremism. The President said yesterday the country continues to face challenges to its security.
The President says the nation is not at war with Islam, but at war with terrorists.
When three young Muslim people were killed in a Chapel Hill apartment last week, their families, friends and advocates from around the world said they knew why: Their neighbor shot them because he hated their religion.
Chapel Hill police didn’t deny that claim, but didn’t validate it either. Within a day of the shooting, authorities said the neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, had been disgruntled over a parking space.
As it turns out, there are wide discrepancies between establishing a hate crime in a court room and a hate crime in the court of public opinion.
Several thousand demonstrators took part in a march in Qatar on Sunday to show solidarity with the families of the North Carolina victims Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Abu-Salha.
The families of the three young Muslims fatally shot in Chapel Hill last week have been urging people to see the incident as a hate crime. Chapel Hill police, which have arrested and charged a suspect, say they’re looking at all possible motives, and the FBI has opened its own parallel preliminary inquiry.
But regardless of what authorities have found so far, the tragedy struck a chord with many young Muslims – especially the closest friends of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha.
Outrage over the murder of three young Muslim Americans in North Carolina last week has gone international. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation said Saturday that the killings reflected "Islamophobia" and "bear the symptoms of a hate crime," but local authorities say they don't yet know what motivated the murders.
The man held responsible for the killings is an avowed atheist. Whether that's relevant in this case is not clear, but some experts see a new extremism developing among some atheists.
The FBI announced last night that it will open its own inquiry into the Chapel Hill shootings this week that left three young people dead.
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt told WUNC's Eric Hodge that he's grateful for the agency's help. He says it could be instrumental in determining whether the suspect, Craig Stephen Hicks, committed a hate crime.
"The motives of this individual are so foreign to all reasonable and peace-loving people. Its very difficult for any of us to understand how anyone could be motivated to behave in this way over any circumstance."
Thousands of people gathered on the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus last night to remember three students who were shot to death on Tuesday: Yusor Abu-Salha, Razan Abu-Salha and Deah Barakat.
Last year, Yusor came to the StoryCorps booth in Durham with her former elementary school teacher Mussarut Jabeen. Jabeen is principal of Al-Iman School in Raleigh. During the StoryCorps interview, the two women discussed their lives, hopes and dreams for the future.
Three Muslim students in North Carolina were shot to death on Tuesday by a neighbor over what police are describing as a parking dispute. The murders have sparked social media outrage in Muslim communities around the world. the day after the murder, Reema Khrais talked with friends of those killed.
People in Chapel Hill and across the Triangle are grieving. Last night was the first public gathering to honor the three Muslim students who were shot and killed this week. Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha. Their neighbor has been charged with their murders.
wunc's Reema Khrais attended the vigil and filed this report for NPR:
One of the victims of the shooting in Chapel Hill this week recorded an interview at the StoryCorps Mobile Booth in Durham, N.C. last summer. Yusor Abu-Salha brought her former elementary school teacher, Sister Jabeen, to the booth.
Forty-six-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Deah Barakat, a second-year student in the UNC School of Dentistry and his wife, Yusor, who had planned to begin her dental studies at UNC in the fall. Yusor's sister, Razan, a student at NC State University, was also killed. We will continue to update this story as information becomes available.
Updated Monday, February 23, 10:15 a.m.
AtlantaMuslim.com has created a map of vigils and gatherings related to the shootings and the hashtag #OurThreeWinners
Updated Thursday, February 19 10:30 a.m.
President Obama includes the Chapel Hill shootings in an address at the White House during a summit on violent extremist. Here's a video of the full address:
Updated Thursday, February 19 7:00 a.m.
Much of the discussion about the motive behind the Chapel Hill shooting is whether it was a hate crime. Many in the Muslim community and on social media say it is, but police have not. Jorge Valencia filed this report today about the decision the police face, and the intricacies of a legal hate crime designation.
Updated Monday February 16 5:10 p.m.
A grand jury has indicted Craig Stephen Hicks in the murder of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, reports Jorge Valencia. Hicks turned himself into authorities last week, just hours after the shooting of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and Razan Abu Salha. Now a grand jury believes there's enough evidence to pursue a felony case against Hicks. He's charged with first-degree murder and discharging a firearm into a dwelling. Chapel Hill police are still investigating and say Hicks may have been motivated by a parking dispute. Family and advocates around the world say Hicks was acting out of a bias against Muslims.
Updated Monday February 16 10:50 a.m.
Qatar students and community hold solidarity walk for Chapel Hill victims. The march was Sunday and began at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University.
"Yesterday, the FBI opened an inquiry into the brutal and outrageous murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated. No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship. Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones. As we saw with the overwhelming presence at the funeral of these young Americans, we are all one American family. Whenever anyone is taken from us before their time, we remember how they lived their lives – and the words of one of the victims should inspire the way we live ours."
“Growing up in America has been such a blessing,” Yusor said recently. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. There’s so many different people from so many different places, of different backgrounds and religions – but here, we’re all one.”
Thursday evening, the FBI announced it is looking into the murders. In a statement, the FBI said it has opened a "parallel preliminary inquiry". They're looking to determine if federal laws were violated. Agents will assist local police to process evidence from the triple-homicide.
Update Thursday February 12 2:58 p.m.
Frank Stasio joined Dr. Omid Safi, director of Duke University's Islamic Studies Center to talk about the events on the nationally syndicated program, The Takeaway. Listen to the audio here.
"If these acts happen in your community, then they are a part of your community, they are a part of your legacy." - Dr. Omid Safi
"You can't see where the crowd ends" at the vigil to honor the three slain students, reports Jorge Valencia.
Update Wednesday February 11 6:00 p.m.
There is a vigil this evening at 6:30 p.m. at the UNC "Pit." Prior to the vigil, at 6 p.m., a prayer service will be held in the Great Hall of the Carolina Union. Parking will be available in the Bell Tower lot.
Update Wednesday February 11 5:31 p.m.
Nada Salem was best friends with the two young women who died. The 21-year-old Muslim woman told reporter Reema Khrais that she strongly believes the crime was motivated by hate.
Salem points to something that happened a few months ago. She had gone over to the couple's house for dinner.
After she went home, her friend Yusor texted to say that their neighbor, Hicks, had come by, complaining that that young people had been "really loud and disrespectful."
And then, Yusor texted, Hicks "pointed to his gun and his pocket and he said 'I don't want this to happen again.'"
Salem had plans to attend UNC School of Dentistry with Yusor. She says not too long ago the couple gave her her first Carolina Dentistry sweater. The two women wanted to wear the sweaters to school at the same time.
"So that we can be matching and we can tell everyone we got in together; and two days ago she texted me again with [the sweater] picture saying that she can't wait for us to start again…together at dental school," says Salem. "It's like a daze for me, personally, I just don't want to believe it."