A 46-year-old man, who had made many anti-religious posts on the social media forums, was on Wednesday charged with fatally shooting down three Muslim students near campus of the University of North Carolina.
According to the police, it was an ongoing dispute over parking space.
The police arrested Chapel Hill-based Craig Stephen Hicks and imposed charged of first-degree murder with three counts, according to the statement released by the Chapel Hill Police Department.
He was sent to Durham County Jail after being arrested.
“Our preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking. Hicks is cooperating with investigators and more information may be released at a later time,” the police said in its statement.
Meanwhile, the Muslim activists lodged protests against the killing of three students, belonging to their community, and demanded through probe against Hicks while alleging for a possible ‘hate crime’ motive behind the murders late on Tuesday.
In another statement, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said, “We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case.”
Hicks’ Facebook profile picture reads “Atheists for Equality”. According to the reports, he used to frequently make posts of quotes that are critical of religion.
His January 20 post on Facebook showed an image of a .38-caliber revolver that he claimed belonged to him. In the post, he had also mentioned that the revolver was loaded.
“Yes, that is 1 pound 5.1 ounces for my loaded 38 revolver, its holster, and five extra rounds in a speedloader,” one of his post said.
All the slain students were involved in various humanitarian aid programs. The names of victims are Deah Shaddy Barakat (23), his wife Yusor Mohammad (21) and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha (19).