Police have arrested a gunman in the killing of three Muslim students – including a husband and wife – in the university town of Chapel Hill in North Carolina, United States, according to news reports on Wednesday.
Police were holding the shooter, identified as Craig Stephen Hicks (46), in Durham County Jail on three counts of first-degree murder, the Chapel Hill News and Observer newspapers and other news outlets said.
The victims were identified as Chapel Hill residents Deah Shaddy Barakat (23) and his wife Yusor Abu-Salha (21), and her sister Razan Abu-Salha (19) of Raleigh.
Hicks turned himself in after the shooting on Tuesday in Chapel Hill, near the campus of the University of North Carolina.
Reports said Barakat was a second-year dentistry student at the university and his wife had planned to begin her dental studies in the fall.
Razan Abu-Salha was a student at North Carolina State University, according to the university newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel.
Police not disclosing motive
A Facebook community – Our Three Winners – has been set up for posts about the three students.
“Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha have returned to their Lord,” the community’s creators state. “They have set an example in life and in death.”
The site features a photo of the three smiling at what appears to be a graduation ceremony. The women wear hijab, one of them also in a blue graduation cap.
The Chapel Hill police have not disclosed a possible motive for the attack. They were not immediately available for comment.
The police website released a statement confirming the three deaths and saying that the department was “questioning a person of interest in the crime and has reason to believe that there is no ongoing threat to the public”. – AFP