A close friend of the male victim of Tuesday’s triple murder in the US state of North Carolina says he and the family of Deah Shaddy Barakat believe the deadly incident was motivated by hate against Muslims.
Mo Idlibby, an immigration attorney in Charlotte, who grew up playing basketball with 23-year-old Barakat, said on Wednesday, "This was cold blooded pre-calculated murder that was motivated by hate.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, shot dead Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.
Police say initial probes suggest the deadly attack stemmed from a dispute over parking space, but have not ruled out the possibility that hatred of Muslims had motivated the shooter.
Idlibby said the parking lot story is just a fabrication of lies. "You don't kill three people over a parking space.”
The lawyer said Barakat told his brother that Hicks hated Muslims and Islam and he had been nourishing hatred against them for years. "He said that the neighbor would confront them at various times and he would have a gun with him by his side."
Earlier in the day, the families of the students called the tragic shootings “execution-style murders,” calling for a hate crime investigation.
Suzanne Barakat, the sister of Deah, demanded that authorities “investigate these senseless and heinous murders as a hate crime,” adding that they were “execution-style murders.”
Meanwhile, the father of the two female students shot dead also demanded that investigators treat the killing as a "hate crime."
"This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime," said Mohammad Abu-Salha. "This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt."
According to reports, all three were high achievers who regularly volunteered for charity work in the area. Barakat was a second-year student at the University of North Carolina’s graduate school of dentistry, and his wife was planning to enroll in the same institution later this year. Her sister was an undergraduate at North Carolina State University who has won an award for her artistic talents.
The fatal shootings have caused outrage among Muslims all over the world. Many claim the crimes would have gained more attention if the attacker had been a Muslim and the victims were non-Muslim whites.