A grand jury in North Carolina has indicted Craig Stephen Hicks on three counts of murder and one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, a court official said, for last week’s fatal shooting of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill.
The indictment was announced Monday morning, according to local
television stations WRAL and WTVD. Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor
Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Abu-Salha were gunned down last
Tuesday in a condo about two miles from the University of North
Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Hicks, 46, was their neighbor and turned himself over to police
after the shooting. He remains in jail without bond, and
questions about his motive have swirled. Hicks had a history of
posting anti-religious messages on social media.
“The case is still being investigated regarding any further
charges and or possible motives,” said Durham District
Attorney Roger Echols, according to the Associated Press. “No
determination has been made on the death penalty.”
— Julia Sims (@WRALJulia) February
The triple murders have received international condemnation, but
while police say there’s no indication yet that Hicks’ actions
were spurred by racism or anti-religious motives, the families of
the students have called the murders a hate crime.
“This was execution style,” said Mohammad Abu-Salha, the
father of Yusor and Razan. “This was a hate crime from a
neighbor our children spoke about.”
Yusor and Razan’s brother, Yusef Abu-Salha, also told RT last
week that there had been a lot of tension between his sisters and
“There were plenty of run-ins [with Hicks],” he said,
“but the run-ins escalated when my sister moved in; she
obviously wore the head scarf. I recall her telling me when she
first went to visit the condo before she even moved in together,
[Hicks] came and knocked on the door and told them they were
making too much noise, and he brandished a gun at his
“I consider that terror,” he added, “I consider that
Legal experts said that for federal hate-crime charges to be
brought and prosecuted, religious bias must be the motivating
factor, not just one of many. Investigators said initial findings
indicated a dispute over parking prompted the shootings, but they
are looking into whether Hicks was motivated by hatred because
the students were Muslim.
Hicks’ wife, Karen said the parking dispute was at the heart of
“I can say with an absolute belief that this incident had
nothing to do with religion of the victims’ faith but it was
related to longstanding dispute that my husband had with the
neighbors,” she said.
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) February
Neighbors, as well as tow-truck driver and others, have said
Hicks often complained about residents and visitors at Finley
Forest parking in his reserved space. He called one tow truck
company so often they stopped responding to his calls.
The FBI has opened its own preliminary inquiry into the incident
but has not specified whether it considers the shooting a hate
Hicks, who was a paralegal student, is expected to make his first
appearance after the grand jury indictment in Superior Court on