On Tuesday evening, Chapel Hill was rocked by the tragic loss of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. The three students were allegedly shot dead by neighbor Craig Hicks, who turned himself in to police and has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Police say Hicks may have acted over a parking dispute, but some suspect the murders were motivated by hate.
Now, friends and family are left to make sense of the sudden loss. Amira Ata, who grew up with Yusor, shared her feelings with Fusion after the shooting, saying Hicks "took so much — from me, from this family, from this community." She described Yusor as "an amazing person," adding, "I feel like people always say that after they lose someone. This isn’t to boost her after her death — she really was a good person."
She's not the only one sharing memories of the three. Those who knew and were touched by Deah, Yusor and Razan posted thoughts and memories to Facebook. Here are some of the moving tributes:
"It was their goodness that they left behind that have not only impacted my life but the millions around the globe."
"When I think of Yusor I just realize how blessed I am to call her my best friend, my sister and now my angel."
"This is about an Islamic community in North Carolina that practices love in face of such hatred."
"She was always laughing and filled any room with joy."
"We were talking about how excited we were to move on to becoming professionals and helping others."
"Every time my tears dry up, the thought of their smiles being stolen so viciously or the hurt of their families makes me collapse right back into tears."
"Deah's project was to get people to smile. That is how I will remember him."
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.