A man suspected of shooting three young Muslims to death near the University of North Carolina has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder, officials and friends said Wednesday.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was being held at the Durham County Jail, near the Chapel Hill campus. Officials at the jail told NBC News that he would be in court later in the day.
The victims were Deah Barakat, 23, a second-year dentistry student; his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21, who planned to start at the dentistry school this fall; and her sister Razan, 19, a student at North Carolina State University, university officials and police said. They were found at an apartment complex by officers who responded to reports of gunfire Tuesday afternoon.
UNC expressed “deep sadness” and said that its chancellor, Carol L. Folt, would issue a statement. A Facebook group called “Our Three Winners” was set up Wednesday in tribute.
Barakat was raising money for a trip this summer to Turkey, where he planned to provide dental care to Syrian refugees, according to his fundraising page. Following the shooting, scores of people donated money and sent messages of condolence. By 6 a.m. ET Wednesday, the page had raised $ 22,657, far exceeding its goal of $ 20,000 by the end of July.
Ahmed Salim, who met Barakat at a Muslim Students Association event, told NBC News that his friend was “a model of the community.” The 27-year-old from Atlanta said: “Everything you can think of as an American, everything a parent would be proud of their child for, that’s what he was.”
“He was always thinking about other people and always smiling,” Salim added. “Everyone who knew him loved him — that’s why I just couldn’t believe it when I heard the news.”
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— Alexander Smith
First published February 11 2015, 1:47 AM