Chapel Hill: Was it a Hate Crime?

Posted on May 2, 2015 by



On a chilly February afternoon, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, a student at NC State, decided to visit her sister and brother-in-law at their home in Chapel Hill after her class was let out. According to the New York Times, around 5:11 p.m. a women getting off the bus, near the condominiums where newlyweds Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Deah Shaddy Barakat resided, heard gunshots and screams and then called 911. Once police arrived they found all three victims dead from gun shot wounds. Roughly after one hour has passed, Craig Hicks turned himself into authorities. News of these killings spread rapidly with two motives coming to the forefront, parking space incident or hate crime?

Parking space incident or hate crime?

Razan, Yusor and Deah were Muslims. Does this fact contribute to why the three young students were killed? Many believed that their religion had much to do with the sudden attack on them while some are saying it was over a parking space. Police interviewed neighbors in the condominiums and discovered Hicks was notorious for getting into it with others over parking spaces. In an interview one of the neighbors referred to Hicks as “equal opportunity anger” stating that he argued with multiple people over the parking in their complex. Every residence was given two designated parking spots and Mr. Hicks would keep an eye out for people illegally parking, so much so that he would keep photos and reports on his computer. He was known for reporting the cars and getting them towed, abusing his power until the housing association asked him to stop. Close friends have stated multiple occasions when Mr. Hicks had yelled at both Deah and Yusor about having too many friends cars parked in the lot or being parked in the wrong spots. The neighbors’ relationship seemed to become worse once Yusor started coming around more and more. Imad Ahmad, former roommate of Barakat, said that Hicks once came to their door after friends were over and growled that they had woken his wife then proceeded to flash a gun. The incident was never reported. They took precautions to not upset the neighbor anymore but things continued on as they have been. According to friends, “Deah looks like your average white guy, but Yusor wears the headscarf and so does Razan.” Could this have something to do with the senseless murders? After Craig Hicks turned himself in police needed to find motive. With search warrants in hand they began digging into Mr. Hicks. In his home at least a dozen of guns were found. On his computer they searched is Facebook and discovered he was an Atheist and had posted quotes and memes degrading Christianity, Islam and other religions.



The debate of whether this triple murder is a hate crime or not is still continuing on. Many would argue that the man was crazy and snapped on that Tuesday afternoon while others would say it is clearly a hate crime against Muslims, and hard to argue its not. After researching multiple news sources it was interesting to see the point of views. I discovered that the Huffington Post and New York Times articles leaned towards a hate crime while CNN suggests it was over a parking dispute. Either way you look at it, the murders of Deah Barakat, Yusor and Razan Abu-Salha were senseless and a terrible tragedy.



Brumfield, Ben. “Chapel Hill Slayings: When Is a Crime a ‘hate Crime?’ –” CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.

Casarez, Jean, Shoichet, Catherine. “Chapel Hill Shooting suspect Indicted –” CNN. Cable News Network, 17 Feb 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.

“Chapel Hill Shooting: What’s the Definition of a Hate Crime? – BBC News.” BBC News. BBC, 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.

Kaplan, Sarah. “Suspect in Chapel Hill Killings Described as Troublemaker, Obsessed with Parking.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.

Katz, Jonathan M. “In Chapel Hill, Suspect’s Rage Went Beyond a Parking Dispute.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.

Ose, Erik. “Why the Chapel Hill Shooting Was More Hate Crime Than ‘Parking Dispute’” The Huffington Post., 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.

Sledge, Matt. “Chapel Hill Shooting Strokes Climate of Fear for Muslims” The Huffington Post., 20 Feb 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.



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