WCU reacts to the killing of three students in Chapel Hill

Days after the killing of 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, her 23-year-old husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and her 19-year-old sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, near the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus. Western Carolina University students held moment of silence and posted their opinions on social media.

WCU students had a moment of silence on Feb. 13 honoring the students at Chapel Hill who were killed Feb. 11. Photo by Hunter Bryn.

WCU students had a moment of silence on Feb. 13 honoring the students at Chapel Hill who were killed Feb. 11.
Photo by Hunter Bryn.

The three students were shot the night of Feb. 10 by their neighbor Craig Hicks over what Chapel Hill police said was a parking dispute. However, many people on social media do not believe this. Some believe that they were shot because of their religion.

The News and Observer reported that “Police in Chapel Hill said they have yet to uncover any evidence that Hicks, 46, allegedly acted out of religious animus, though they are investigating the possibility.”

The FBI is also probing whether the victims were targeted because of their religion. On Friday afternoon, Feb. 13, WCU held a moment of silence and a candelight vigil in memory of the victims.

“Those people who got killed were Muslim. We’re here gathering with different faiths and different clothes, just to feel for them and I think that’s amazing,” said Yahia Hebarsy, a WCU student from Saudi Arabia.
The Western Carolina Journalist asked WCU students for their reactions via social media.

Bianca reacts to Chapel Hill Shootings

WCU student Bianca Boieru went to high school with Yusor and her sister Razan but knew her older brother Yousef well and “can’t imagine his pain right now.”

In a private Facebook message, she added,

“It’s obvious though how immensely supportive the Chapel Hill, Raleigh and American community have been; that they truly made (and are continuing to make) a beautiful and inspirational impact on the world.”



Zac-on-Chapel-Hill-ShootingZac Simmons, also responded on Facebook with a post asking “What’s next?” as well as responding to a message on his thoughts about the shootings.

“I don’t know any Muslims personally but being a minority myself, gay that is, I do understand the unfortunate struggles of restricting rights and my heart bleeds for anyone who suffers from any form of discrimination whatsoever.”


Sarah Boggs, a WCU alumni, commented on a post by one of our reporters.

“Whether race and religion was an issue is yet to be confirmed, but I think hatred and bigotry is also worth taking a look at as a reminder for us to strive for and maintain a peaceful society. No one should have to pay the ultimate price of death for any type of differences.”



The investigation into the shooting is still ongoing. When it comes to whether the shooting was a result of a hate crime or not, there were different opinions from WCU students, but all agree that the shooting of these three students was a tragedy.

Update: Craig Hicks was indicted for three counts of homicide by a Durham County grand jury on Feb. 16, according to WRAL.


Christina Bridgeman and Hunter Bryn contributed to this reporting.