Three Muslim students from the University of North Carolina were fatally shot close to campus on Tuesday and police have their suspects narrowed down to one: a man who reportedly describes himself as an atheist who has shared anti-religion posts on Facebook.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, of Chapel Hill, was arrested in connection with the shooting deaths of dentistry student Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.
The three victims were found dead after they had reportedly been shot in the head at Summerwalk Circle at around 5:10 p.m., reports CNN. Barakat and his wife were newlyweds and he was in his second year at the dental school at the University of North Carolina. One of his final Facebook posts announced how he was helping to donate free dental supplies to 75 homeless people in Durham.
Prior to their deaths, Barakat and Mohammad were also active fundraisers for Syrian refugees and had helped raise $15,000 – an amount that quickly increased to $23,000 after their deaths, reports the Daily Mail.
Mohammad Abu-Salha was an architecture and environmental design student at the university.
It is believed that Hicks reportedly turned himself in to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office. On his Facebook page, he reportedly described himself as a supporter of “Atheists for Equality” and often criticized all religions, including Christianity.
After their deaths, atheist Richard Dawkins took the opportunity to separate atheism from the violent crime by speaking out against the killings: “How could any decent person NOT condemn the vile murder of three young US Muslims in Chapel Hill?”
People claiming to be relatives gathered at the scene on Tuesday evening asking who the victims were
The couple had organised an online fundraiser to get dental care to refugees from Syria, raising around $15,000 – but after news of their deaths, the total reached more than $23,000