Chapel Hill shooting shocks community

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Broughton graduate Deah Barakat was killed on Tuesday, February 10th. Barakat was gunned down in Chapel Hill along with his wife, Yusor Mohammad, and his wife’s sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

The alleged shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, was arrested and charged with fatally shooting the 3 people, and is now being held without bond. All of the victims were shot in the head and declared dead on the scene.

“Deah was very giving, selfless, and funny, so funny. The kind of kid you could never stay mad at because he was so funny. He was always available to help, and put everyone before himself. He was truly selfless. Just last weekend he was handing out toothbrushes at the homeless shelter because that’s just the kind of kid he was. I always said he was going to change the world. And he is. It’s such a loss,” Tina Bartlett said. Bartlett taught Barakat during his time at Broughton.

Speculation is circulating that the shooting was a Muslim hate crime. The Council on American and Islamic Relations issued a statement asking the Chapel Hill Police Department to address the speculations.

“Based on the brutal nature of this crime, the past anti-religion statements of the alleged perpetrator, the religious attire of two of the victims, and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in American society, we urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in this case,” CAIR National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, said.

2014 Broughton Graduate and current Chapel Hill student, Rashan Ayesh, was particularly stricken by the death. Ayesh was the president of the Muslim Student Association of Broughton in 2014.

“When we heard the news last night it was devastating. I was studying in the library and I look up to see some people in tears. My mom was calling me at that moment saying three Muslims we knew had been shot. This is a shock to the Muslim community. It’s the first time we haven’t felt safe,” Ayesh said.

Many students and residents have experienced similar reactions to the news, even inciting outrage on social media networks with the hashtag, #MuslimLivesMatter.

“I am astounded by the sense of community, between Muslims and non, that I am seeing. They were wonderful people that dedicated their lives to others. Deah was getting ready to go to Turkey over the summer to help Syrian refugees. I was at their wedding a little over a month ago and the way their family members spoke about them was astounding. It was a beautiful moment not that I recollect seeing a room filled with people that cared them so deeply,” Ayesh said.

Barakat and Mohammad had been married for 6 weeks at the time of their deaths.

Barakat was in the IB Program, and his former teachers are heartbroken at the news.

“He was quiet in class but really sensitive to the needs of everyone else. I can’t make sense of this,” David Brooks said.