Belief

North Carolina 'New Atheist' Charged with Killing Three Arab Students Execution Style

Suspect Craig Hicks loved guns and Richard Dawkins, according to Facebook page.

Yesterday, three Arab students in Chapel Hill – newlyweds Deah Barakat and Yusor Mohammad as well as her sister Razan Abu-Salha – were brutally murdered, with execution-style shots to the head. The same day, a man, Craig S. Hicks, was arrested and charged with three counts of murder.

For hours, no national media outlet reported the story, provoking the hashtag #ChapelHillShooting, which soon trended worldwide. Finally, after midnight, Buzzfeed became the first national outlet to report on the killings.

Craig Hicks has been identified as a 46-year-old North Carolina man, and as of this writing, his apparent Facebook page is still up. Perusing the page reveals the fact that Hicks was both a fervent New Atheist – his page is littered with references to Bill Maher and disdain for religious belief – and a gun enthusiast.

Here he is showing off a pistol he owned last month:

Here he is quoting Richard Dawkins about how 9/11 made him hate religion:

And here he is proclaiming his fears of gun control:

Also, an apparent Amazon wishlist for “Craig Hicks” shows off a variety of armaments, including sniper scopes and a ghillie suit – a kind of camouflage suit. 

Although the students appear to have been targeted for their religion, police officials are saying that the motive for the shooting has yet to be determined. The New York Times has reported that a long-running dispute about a parking space might have been involved.

As the Muslim community in the area mourns, they've set up the Facebook page “Our Three Winners” to commemorate the lives of the three young souls taken from them far too soon.

Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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