Chapel Hill Police Say Killing of Muslim Students Due to ‘Parking Dispute’

By Aura Bogado Feb 11, 2015

Update, 2:20p ET: Father calls killings a ‘hate crime’
The father of Yosur Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha is contradicting the narrative that the motive behind his daughters’ killings was caused because of a parking dispute. According to, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, the women’s father, says that Craig Stephen Hicks had intimidated his daughters and son-in-law on other occasions prior to the killings:  

"It was execution style, a bullet in every head," Abu-Salha said Wednesday morning. "This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt. And they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far."

Abu-Salha adds that one of his daughters had recently talked about having "a hateful neighbor." 

The Chapel Hill Police Department has issued a statement about the three Muslims students, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, who were shot and killed by Craig Stephen Hicks, a 46-year-old white man Tuesday night. In it, authorities say their "preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking." Hicks was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder; police say he’s cooperating with the investigation. 

But many have pointed out that Hicks posted virulently anti-religion posts on his Facebook account. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), meanwhile, has released its own statement urging for a state and federal investigation in order to "quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in the case." In the statement, CAIR’s Nihad Awad points out Hicks’s anti-religion assertions–and that two of his victims were dressed in religious attire.

A vigil is scheduled in Chapel Hill‘s Peace and Justice Plaza at 7 p.m. local time to honor the lives of Barakat, Mohammad and Abu-Salha. A smaller candlelight vigil is already being planned in the Philadelphia area at Bryn Mawr College. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where Barakat attended school and Mohammad had planned to attend in the fall, has issued a statement that says the school is planning a vigil this evening, with details soon to emerge. According to ABC News, N.C, State Chancellor acknowledged in a statement that the victims include two current students and an alumni; it’s not clear whether N.C. State will hold its own vigil.