When Craig Stephen Hicks shot and killed three Muslim college kids in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 2015, police there said it was over a parking dispute. On Wednesday, the police chief apologized, saying that four years later, it's clear Hicks carried out the murders with hate in his heart.
“What we all know now and what I wish we had said four years ago is that the murders of Deah, Yusor, and Razan were about more than simply a parking dispute,” Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said in a statement. “The man who committed these murders undoubtedly did so with a hateful heart, and the murders represented the taking of three promising lives by someone who clearly chose not to see the humanity and the goodness in them.”
Hicks, 50, had pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder earlier on Wednesday and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences without parole. In 2015, Hicks burst into a condo and fally shot 23-year-old Deah Barakat, his wife, 21-year-old Yusor Abu-Salha, and Yusor’s sister, 19-year-old Razan Abu-Salha.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Chapel Hill police said the killings were sparked by anger over parking spots where Hicks and the three students lived. Family members called it a hate crime. Prosecutors said on Wednesday that Hicks had shown off his gun on his hip to intimidate a Korean neighbor, a black worker at the building and his eventual victims, according to the Associated Press.
On Wednesday, a video of the killing was played in court for the first time. It was recorded by Barakat before he was fatally shot, and in it you can hear the victims pleading for Hicks to stop. Footage of the family’s reaction to the cellphone video showed them stricken with grief. Barakat’s older sister, Dr. Suzanne Barakat, fainted in the courtroom as the video was played, the AP reported.
In his apology, Blue acknowledged the pain the families have experienced since their loved ones were killed.
“To the Abu-Salha and Barakat families, we extend our sincere regret that any part of our message all those years ago added to the pain you experienced through the loss of Our Three Winners,” the statement read. “And, to the Muslim members of our community, know that you are heard, seen, and valued.”
Cover: Craig Hicks pleads guilty to first-degree murder in the 2015 murders of three young Muslims at a Chapel Hill apartment Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at the Durham County Courthouse. Hicks will serve a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole for killing his neighbors at the Finley Forest Condominiums: Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)