Three Muslims 'shot by militant atheist' in US
Three members of a Muslim family were killed near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, allegedly by a militant atheist.
The victims were named as Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.
The Salha sisters were students at North Carolina State University and Barakat was a doctoral student in UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Dentistry, according to local media.
In a statement, the police said they responded to a report of gunshots in the usually quiet area of Summerwalk Circle in Chapel Hill at 5.11pm local time on Tuesday. Upon arrival, officers found the three young individuals, who were pronounced dead at the scene.
Some reports said that residents were unaware of what had happened until police arrived.
A 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of three counts of murder. He was named by police as Craig Stephen Hicks and in a statement confirmed he had been charged.
The alleged killer calmly turned himself in to local police in Chapel Hill, shortly after the shootings.
In what appears to be the Facebook page of the man charged, Craig Hicks shared a picture from United Atheists of America entitled: "Why radical Christians and radical Muslims are so opposed to each others' influence when they agree about so many ideological issues." He also shared an image from Militant Atheism for the Soul. According to the profile page, Hicks is married and studied as a paralegal at Durham Technical Community College. In January, he shared a picture of a gun and wrote: "Yes, that is 1 pound 5.1 ounces for my loaded 38 revolver, its holster, and five extra rounds in a speedloader." Following the news of the deaths, there was an outpouring of grief and anger on social media, with some fears that the three were killed because they were Muslim.
Authorities at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, one of America's top-ranked public universities, called for calm, urging students to wait for police to ascertain the facts of the killings before ascribing motive. (© Daily Telegraph, London)