PRESS TV Posted Wed., Feb.11, 2015
Three American Muslim students have been killed in a shooting incident in the US state of North Carolina, according to police officials.
The incident happened in an apartment near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus on Tuesday.
The victims are Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.
Police arrested the shooter, identified as Craig Stephen Hicks. (pic below)
The suspect, who is being held in the Durham County Jail, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. The Chapel Hill Police Department announced that “there is no ongoing threat to the public.”
As a Syrian-American, Barakat was a doctoral student at the university’s School of Dentistry.
Carol Folt, the chancellor of the University of North Carolina, will issue a statement later on Wednesday. “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 this crime,” the school said.
People on social media quickly reacted to the shooting, posting pictures of the victims and claiming they had been “murdered execution style.” Two hashtags went across twitter by the social network users, #chapelhillshooting and #MuslimLivesMatter.
On tweet said, “Muslim victims were recently seen providing free dental & food supplies to the poor & homeless.”
“If a Muslim executed 3 Christian students in US, it would get a LOT more media coverage than I’m seeing right now,” another tweet said.
Barakat, 23, Yusor, 21, and Razan, 19, were all shot in the head.
Some users urged US President Barack Obama to condemn the incident, comparing the shooting to the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris.
Barakat, who was active on social media, posted a tweet about the crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip about two weeks ago.
“It’s so freaking sad to hear people saying we should ‘kill Jews’ or ‘kill Palestinians.’ As if that’s going to solve anything SMH,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned the shooting deaths of the Muslim students.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Muslim civil liberties advocacy group urged police to address the speculation about the suspect’s motive.
“Based on the brutal nature of this crime, the past anti-religion statements of the alleged perpetrator, the religious attire of two of the victims, and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in American society, we urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in this case,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said.