A 46-year-old man named Craig Stephen Hicks allegedly shot and killed three Muslim college students on Tuesday in a Chapel Hill, N.C., condominium complex close to the nearby University of North Carolina campus.
The three victims—Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha—were between the ages of 19 and 23. All three were shot in the head and pronounced dead by authorities at the scene.
Student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel reports that Barakat was studying at UNC’s School of Dentistry; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, had planned to enroll in the same program in the fall. Abu-Salha’s sister, Rezan, was attending North Carolina State University, studying architecture and environmental design.
Hicks turned himself in to law enforcement officials shortly after the shooting. He is being charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
The incident immediately sparked a firestorm on social media. People quickly began using the Twitter hashtag #ChapelHillShooting to complain about perceived double standards for violent crimes committed by Muslims versus those committed against Muslims.
they chosen what mental illness this terrorist has yet.Will the right start denouncing him or will it be victims fault #ChapelHillShooting
— Brian ❌ (@Brian_JTC) February 11, 2015
— Rehman (@rehmananwer) February 11, 2015
Others used the hashtag to compare how the media was slower to react to this shooting—which many suspected to be a hate crime directed at the victims due to their faith—than the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year.
— Reem (@reemyasserfouad) February 11, 2015
— Faiqa Salman (@FaiqaSalman) February 11, 2015
— Mahmoud Shabeeb (@ItisMoody) February 11, 2015
— سارة عثمان (@Sarah_Othmann) February 11, 2015
Shortly after the shooting, a Facebook page was created to express love for the victims and solidarity with their families.
“It sorrows us all to see what has happened here today,” reads one post on the page. “Please rely on each other and remember these beautiful souls in your happy thoughts. Their faith meant a lot to them, and it is in fact what helps us all feel at peace with the tragedy of their murder.”
People also used the Twitter hashtag to pay homage to the young people who were killed.
— Lina (@Lina_Serene) February 11, 2015
— Hind Touissate (@AccordingtoHind) February 11, 2015
The 3 #ChapelHillShooting victims were outstanding community leaders in every sense of the title. Name them. Honor them & their passions.
— Sara Jo سارة (@HelloSaraJo) February 11, 2015
Photo via Caroline Culler/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)