(RALEIGH, N.C.) — Thousands gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina, Thursday to mourn the deaths of three young people who were gunned down earlier this week over what police say was a dispute over a parking space.
Due to the size of the crowd, the service for Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha was shifted from a mosque to an athletic field.
The evening before, a candle light vigil was held in Chapel Hill where police allege Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, shot the victims dead. Hicks has been charged with three counts of murder.
Two of the victims, Barakat, 23, a second-year student at University of North Carolina’s School of Dentistry, and Mohammad, 21, a prospective dental student, were married. Mohammad’s sister, Abu-Salha, was a sophomore at North Carolina State University.
According to his Facebook postings, Hicks was an avowed Second Amendment rights advocate who opposed organized religion, including Christianity and Islam.
However, his wife, Karen, told police that the shootings were not related to the victims’ religion and instead stemming from a long-standing dispute over a parking space.
Nonetheless, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, The Council on American-Islamic Relations, requested law enforcement authorities address speculation about a possible bias motive in the homicides.
The FBI says it has “opened a parallel preliminary inquiry to determine whether any federal laws were violated” in the killing of three young Muslims.
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