Thousands of residents from this quiet town stood in a candlelight vigil at Chapel Hill, NC where three Muslim students will be buried. Authorities are still trying to figure out if the killing was for a parking space dispute or religious hatred played a role.
Deah Shaddy Barakat, a 23-year-old dental student, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh were killed allegedly by their neighbor Craig Stephen Hicks. The Funeral will take place at Raleigh at 1.30 PM.
Police had ruled out .the possibility of religious hatred initially and investigation has revealed that the killing was a culmination of a long-simmering dispute.
All the victims were of Syrian origin and were born in the US and grew up in North Carolina region.
Deah Shaddy and Yusor Mohammad were recently married and were socially very active. They had volunteered to help the homeless and also helped to raise money for Syrian minorities in Turkey who had fled persecution in ISIS controlled Syria and Iraq.
The couple had met while helping to run the Muslim Student Association at N.C. State before Shaddy decided to pursue higher studies degree in dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Yusor Mohammad also planned to join her husband in dentistry school in the fall.
Ali Sajjad, 21, the president of the Muslim Student Association at N.C. State said,” This was like the power couple of our community.”
The killing sent shock waves across the seemingly quiet town and as many as 2000 persons stood for a candlelight vigil in the heart of University of North Carolina campus Wednesday evening.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, faces charges of three counts of first-degree murder and is being held without bond.
Local authorities were at pains to explain that every aspect of this senseless and brutal act is being investigated.
Chris Blue of the Chapel Hill Police Department 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. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these young people who lost their lives so needlessly.”