Chapel Hill (North Carolina), Feb 12: In a disturbing incident in North Carolina's Chapel Hill, three young Muslim students were allegedly shot dead by their neighbors over a parking dispute. The incident occurred on Tuesday at 5:00 pm. As per a 911 calls, five to 10 shots had been fired. The three victims, one man and two women had Arabic descents.
Some speculate that there were multiple causes behind the shooting, which might include hate crime. However, a Chapel Hill Police Department statement said,"Our preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking." IT also added that the suspect and their neighbour Craig Stephen Hicks, was "cooperating with investigators."
However, the police department has not completely negated the hate crime theory. Chapel Hill police chief, Chris Blue said,"We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated. And we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case."
The dead were identified as a newly-wed couple Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and Abu-Salha's sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, all of whom were brilliant students. While Barakat was a second year dentistry student at the graduate school of dentistry at the University of North Carolina, his wife had plans to enrol herself in the fall. Razan Abu-Salha was an undergraduate at North Carolina State University.
To the residents, they were peaceful residents and soft spoken. Meanwhile, outrage and sorrow hovered over the Muslim community across the world. Wajahat Ali, writer and co-host of Al-Jazeera America's The Stream, who knew the family of one of the victims said,"the family is educated; these young people were exuberant, selfless, dedicated to local, national and international relief efforts," Ali said. "These were three bright young stars, not only in the Muslim community, but in America. This should not be seen as a tragedy and loss just for the Muslim community; it should be seen as a tragic loss for the American community, and the international."
Incidentally, the students also took part in community work and Barakat was planning to go to Turkey this summer to provide dental care to refugees from the civil war in Syria.