Three young students were gunned down in an apartment complex in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Tuesday evening, in what reportedly appears to be an execution-style murder. Yusor Mohammad, who was 21 years old, was shot dead along with her 23 year-old husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and 19 year-old sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. The Independent reports that their alleged assailant, 46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks, surrendered himself to police officers and is in custody – charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
According to The Independent, police officers responded to calls indicating gunshots had been fired at the housing complex on Summerwalk Circle in Chapel Hill, at 5:11 p.m. The building is home to many students of the University of North Carolina – including Deah Barakat and his wife, Yusor. It is reported that Barakat was studying at the UNC School of Dentistry, at which Yusor was also due to begin studies later this year. Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha was a student at North Carolina State University. CNN reports that, on arrival at the scene, police found all three victims to have suffered gunshot wounds to the head in the Barakat apartment.
The University Of North Carolina issued a statement regarding the crime.
“We are sensitive to the impact an incident of this nature has on campus and in the community. We understand you want to know the facts as quickly as possible. At the same time, we must respect the job our Chapel Hill police have as they investigate the crime.”
The Telegraph reports that there has been much speculation and outrage at the murders, which are perceived to have been religiously motivated, despite no confirmation of this by investigating authorities. Commentators cite the fact that the victims were Muslim, while their alleged murderer regularly posted items on his social media accounts promoting atheism and denouncing all religions.
There has also been much criticism of the lack of media coverage of the murders, despite discussions of the crime spreading quickly around the world through Twitter. The Independent reports that, at its peak, there were 55,000 mentions of the hashtag #ChapelHillShooting per hour. The victims themselves were known to have been regular users of the popular social network – often using it to highlight their charitable works, including the provision of care to homeless people in the U.S, as well as working with the Miswak Foundation – a charity that provides dental care to refugees around the world.
While local police have yet to make any official statements regarding the fatal Chapel Hill shootings, their investigation into the brutal crime continues.
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