Chapel Hill police said Wednesday morning that a dispute about parking in the neighborhood of rented condominiums near Meadowmont may have led Craig Stephen Hicks to shoot his neighbors, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and Abu-Salha's sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh.
But the women's father, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, who has a psychiatry practice in Clayton, said regardless of the precise trigger Tuesday night, Hicks' underlying animosity toward Barakat and Abu-Salha was based on their religion and culture. Abu-Salha said police told him Hicks shot the three inside their apartment.
"It was execution style, a bullet in every head," Abu-Salha said Wednesday morning. "This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt. And they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far."
Abu-Salha said his daughter who lived next door to Hicks wore a Muslim head scarf and told her family a week ago that she had "a hateful neighbor."
"Honest to God, she said, 'He hates us for what we are and how we look,'" he said.
Police charged Hicks with three counts of first-degree murder.
"Our preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking," said police spokesman Lt. Joshua Mecimore. "Hicks is cooperating with investigators."