Three Muslim students killed at North Carolina campus

Friends and family, and online community condemning the murder, shared victims' photos following the incident [Facebook]

Friends and family, and online community condemning the murder, shared victims’ photos following the incident [Facebook]

Police arrest suspect after three Muslim Americans are shot dead at University of North Carolina campus.

Three American students have been shot to death at a residential complex of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a suspect has been arrested over the incident, according to local police.

Chapel Hill police told local news outlets that Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was arrested and charged with killing the three Muslim students.

He is being held at the Durham County Jail, and is expected to make a first court appearance Wednesday morning.

In a statement posted online, Chapel Hill police said that “preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbour dispute over parking.”

“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,” the statement said quoting Police Chief Chris Blue.

Hicks turned himself in after the shooting on Tuesday in Chapel Hill, just outside the campus of the University of North Carolina, AFP news agency reported.

Police officers responded to a report of shooting at around 5:15pm on Tuesday, and found three people who were pronounced dead at the scene.

The police website released a statement confirming the three deaths and saying the department is “questioning a person of interest in the crime and has reason to believe that there is no ongoing threat to the public”.

The victims were identified as 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his 21-year-old wife, Yusor Mohammad, and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, police said.

“I’m kind of in shock. I’m really confused and I have been since 5:30,” said Kristen Boling, who lived in the complex where the shooting occurred.

The university said that Barakat was a second-year student at its dentistry school, his wife was planning on starting there in the fall, while her sister was a student at North Carolina State University.

Residents told local media that the complex was a peaceful place.

“It’s a very quiet community,” Bethany Boring, who lives in the complex, told television station WRAL.

“It’s a lot of graduate and professional students. You know, professionals’ families.”

Friends and family and the online community shared photos of the victims via social media after the incident.

The hashtag  went viral after the incident was reported, many of the tweets criticising the US and other Western media for not covering the shooting.

By Al Jazeera