Families of NC Muslims Killed Call Deaths a 'Hate Crime'
The families of three young Muslims gunned down in North Carolina by a neighbor are calling their deaths a hate crime.
More than 5,000 people from various religious groups showed up for the funeral services Thursday for 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.
The funeral crowd was so large it had to be moved from a mosque to an athletic field at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where all three had studied before Barakat and Mohammad moved to Chapel Hill to pursue careers in dentistry.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged with first degree murder in their shooting deaths. The three were killed Tuesday in the couple's Chapel Hill apartment.
Hicks, a self-described "gun toting" atheist had allegedly harassed the Muslims in the past about their Islamic culture. Police said he shot them execution style.
National Muslim groups, who have intervened in the case, are also calling the killings hate crimes.
"We have asked for the federal government to intervene based on the info the parents showed us," National Director for CAIR Nihad Nwad said.
The father of the two slain sisters called for justice at the funeral.
"This has hate crime written all over it," Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha said.
But police said the shootings happened because of a parking dispute, a claim that Hick's wife backs up.
"Every person is different and I think how people react is different and I think something just snapped," Karen Hicks said.
The FBI has launced an investigation into the shootings. Hicks has yet to enter a plea. He could face the death penalty if convicted.