The news that three young Muslims were killed by a gunman in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, late afternoon Feb. 11 has spread quickly across the internet, even as the gunman’s motivations remained unknown.
The victims, who were shot in the head near the University of North Carolina campus, were identified by the Chapel Hill Police as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and Yusor Mohammad, age 21, a married couple from Chapel Hill, as well Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, who lived in Raleigh, North Carolina.
A 46-year-old man, Craig Stephen Hicks of Chapel Hill, turned himself in after the shootings, and is being held in Durham County Jail on three counts of first-degree murder. Police told the Washington Post that the shooting happened after an argument over parking.
While a motive for the killings remained unknown, some suggested they may have been religious-based: that the students may have been killed because all three were Muslim. Hicks had posted anti-religion and pro-atheist content to his Facebook page, according to reports.
Barakat was a second-year student in the university’s school of dentistry. His wife planned to start at the school in the fall. Abu-Salha, Mohammad’s sister, was a student at NC State University.
On Twitter, many are discussing the killings via the hashtag #ChapelHillShooting. Some shared photos of the victims—together at a graduation, doing volunteer work, and at Barakat and Mohammad’s wedding.
Others spoke out against a perceived lack of media coverage of the shootings due to bias against the victims:
Others used the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter, a twist on the phrase “Black Lives Matter” that has become a rallying cry in protests following the recent deaths of black men at the hands of police officers: