ADDED: CNN’s Jake Tapper is reporting that a dispute over parking might have had something to do with the murders. Full police report. The police are looking into whether the murders were “hate-motivated” and say that Hicks is cooperating with the investigation.
Just awful news in my beloved home state of North Carolina Wednesday morning. Craig Stephen Hicks, a 46 year-old Chapel Hill resident, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the shooting death of three young Muslim students.
According to early news reports, Hicks is accused of shooting execution style Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19 on Tuesday. The two women were North Carolina University students. Bakarat was studying for his doctorate at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Dentistry.
Hicks turned himself into police Tuesday night.
Though no motive for the shooting has been confirmed, local media is reporting that social media sites connected to Hicks might offer a clue. Hicks is a self-described “anti-theist” who lashed out against all religions. Apparently he is associated in some way with United Atheists of America and uses social media to lash out at both “radical Christians and radical Muslims.” He also describes himself as a fan of atheist author Richard Dawkins.
TV programmes liked by Hicks include The Atheist Experience, Criminal Minds and Friends, while he describes himself as a fan of Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason and Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion.
Hicks’ pictures largely consist of images with text mocking religion and supporting atheism, but include images of himself and his wife at Disneyland, what he describes as his “loaded 38 revovler”, and himself separately on a quad bike and wearing a suit.
According to his Facebook “likes,” Hicks is a man of the left:
His Facebook Likes included the Huffington Post, Rachel Maddow, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” Neil deGrasse Tyson, Gay Marriage groups and similar progressive pages.
Hicks is a vehement atheist, according to his Facebook page, where he frequently posts anti-religion musings.
Hicks frequently posted quotes of prominent comedians and atheists, including the prominent British atheist, professor and author Richard Dawkins.
Via Twitter, Dawkins has already condemned the murders: “How could any decent person NOT condemn the vile murder of three young US Muslims in Chapel Hill?”
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC