The Charlotte [North Carolina] Observer reports that the father of the two women murdered in Chapel Hill says it was a hate crime.
…the women’s father, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, who has a psychiatry practice in Clayton, said regardless of the precise trigger Tuesday night, Hicks’ underlying animosity toward Barakat and Abu-Salha was based on their religion and culture. Abu-Salha said police told him Hicks shot the three inside their apartment.
“It was execution style, a bullet in every head,” Abu-Salha said Wednesday morning. “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. 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. And they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far.”
Abu-Salha said his daughter who lived next door to Hicks wore a Muslim head scarf and told her family a week ago that she had “a hateful neighbor.”
“Honest to God, she said, ‘He hates us for what we are and how we look,’” he said.
The police and prosecutors are still investigating.
Chapel Hill police found all three victims dead at the scene, after responding to a report of gunshots on Summerwalk Circle at 5:11 p.m. Tuesday. A woman who called 911 described hearing gunshots as she walked through the complex of apartments and condominiums adjacent to the Friday Center.
“I heard about eight shots go off in an apartment – I don’t know the number – about three girls, more than one girl, screaming, and then there was nothing,” the unidentified caller said. “And then I heard about three more shots go off.”
Barakat, a Syrian-American, enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013 to pursue his doctorate in dental surgery.
Both he and Abu-Salha advocated for global dental health, providing care and supplies to people in the United States and the Middle East. On Jan. 29, Barakat posted a Facebook photo of a Durham project that gave dental supplies and food to more than 75 homeless people this year.
Barakat was scheduled to travel with 10 other dentists this summer to Reyhanli, Turkey. There, they planned to treat Syrian refugee children for urgent dental needs, pass out toothbrushes and toothpaste, and support Turkish dentists and clinics.
In a video, he made an urgent plea for donations: “These kids don’t have access to the same health care as us, and their prolonged pain can easily be taken of with the work that we do, but we need the proper funding,” he said, wearing a “Carolina Dentistry” T-shirt. “So let’s relieve their pain. If you want to make a difference in the life of a child most in need, then I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity.”
That’s who they were.