Craig Hicks, the man charged with shooting and killing three Muslim students in a Chapel Hill condominium complex last week, was indicted by a grand jury Monday on three counts of first-degree murder, according to The Associated Press.
The Durham County grand jury returned three counts of murder against the 46-year-old Hicks in the deaths of Deah Barakat, 21, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19. Hicks lived next door to the trio. According to local CBS affiliate WRAL, Hicks was also indicted on a firearms charge.
The crime has sparked debate over racial and religious justice. Authorities have said the shootings were motivated by a parking dispute, but they haven't ruled out the possibility of bias as a motivator. Amira Ata, one of the victims' friends, told Fusion last week that she believes it was a hate crime, as does the father of two of the victims.
The FBI and the Justice Department's civil-rights division are also investigating the case to determine whether "any federal laws, including hate crime laws, were violated," Attorney General Eric Holder said last week.
Hicks allegedly posted a photo of his loaded gun on Facebook last month, and has posts on the site proclaiming himself a “militant atheist.” Friends and family members have said that he had previously threatened all three victims.
Barakat, a Syrian-American who was a second-year dental student at the University of North Carolina, and Yusor Abu-Salha were newlyweds. Barakat had been planning a trip to Turkey this summer to provide dental care for refugees of Syria’s civil war. Ata said Abu-Salha had gone there last year.
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.