The Durham County district attorney’s office filed a notice Monday that it would seek the death penalty in the case against accused Chapel Hill shooter Craig Hicks.
Hicks, 46, is charged with the murders of his neighbors Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.
On Feb. 10, Hicks allegedly shot the three students execution-style in the head inside the Chapel Hill apartment of Barakat and Mohammad.
At around 5 p.m., Chapel Hill police responded to a 911 call regarding shots fired and people screaming at the Finley Forest Apartment Complex in Chapel Hill, according to warrants.
When the officers arrived at the scene, a witness hiding behind a building ran at them and pointed toward Barakat and Mohammad’s apartment. She told them that her “friend was over there bleeding.”
Inside the apartment, officers first found Barakat who was “bleeding from the head and showed no signs of life,” according to the warrant.
The police found one female body in the kitchen near the dishwasher and another female lying in the doorway, near the kitchen. Both women showed no signs of life.
A witness told police that after he heard shots, he noticed “a white male, approximately his mid-forties, wearing a beard and with a balding spot on the top of his head, wearing a gold Carhart coat, walking fast from the back of the apartment building.”
According to the witness, the suspect entered a gold car and drove away from the scene.
Hicks later turned himself in and allegedly told investigators that the killings were over a parking space dispute. He was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and was held in jail without bond.
The families of the slain individuals have maintained that the killings were a hate crime against the three devout Muslims.
“Even though the murderer can say it was a parking dispute, whatever he was picking on, he came to that apartment with his gun two or three times before the murder, on different occasions,” the father of the two women killed, Dr. Mohammed Abu-Salha, said in an interview on MSNBC.
“My daughter, Yusor, complained and she told us she felt that man hated them for the way they looked and the Muslim garb they wore. She felt the heat has risen after she moved into the apartment and her friends came to visit and most of them wore Muslim attire. So she was worried about that.”
The DA’s office has said that the deaths are also being investigated as a possible hate crime. The FBI has also opened a federal civil rights investigation.
A probable cause hearing in the Hicks case is pending.