A self proclaimed atheist charged in triple homicide over alleged parking spot dispute with Muslim faith neighbors.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
February 12, 2015
Town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina – On Thursday, Graig Stephen Hicks, 46, was charged with three felony counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, on Tuesday over a parking spot dispute, according to the criminal complaint. Hicks is facing three life terms, if convicted on all counts. He is being held without bond.
The victims were U.S. born citizens and both Barakat and Mohammad of Chapel Hill were married in December. Abu-Salha was from Raleigh, according to police.
Hicks went to the condo of two of the victims and executed all of the victims by fatally shooting them in the head. Neighbors in the condo complex heard multiple gun shots and called police. Hicks fled the crime scene, but later turned himself at another adjacent police station.
The victims were all of the Muslim faith and speculation indicates that Hicks who is a self proclaimed atheist might have hated people of religious beliefs. The family of the victims are requesting investigators and Durham County prosecutor’s to determine, if Hicks atheism led to a hate crime.
The Town of Chapel Hill Police Department released the following statement on Wednesday, Our preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking. “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,” said Chief Chris Blue of the Chapel Hill Police Department.”
The victims and Hicks attended the University of North Carolina.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt on Wednesday released the following statement, “I share strong feelings of outrage and shock with my fellow citizens and University students — as well as concerned people everywhere. We do not know whether anti-Muslim bias played a role in this crime, but I do recognize the fear that members of our community may feel. Chapel Hill is a place for everyone, a place where Muslim lives matter.
These deaths represent an incomprehensible loss. I believe that we can find strength by acknowledging the fear and outrage that this act instills, coming together to ask difficult questions, and lifting up all people in our community who are hurting. — in Chapel Hill, NC.”
In New York City and Chicago, people illegally place benches, chairs and other items to reserve their public street parking due to scarce parking spaces by their homes or condos.