Tragedy at UNC: Dental student, two others killed by gunman

Police: Murder may have been motivated by parking dispute. Suspect is in custody.

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On Tuesday, three college students were murdered outside an apartment complex in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A suspect, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, of Chapel Hill, is in police custody.

One of the victims, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, was a second-year student at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry. Barakat's wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, was also killed. Yusor reportedly planned to attend dental school in the fall. A third victim, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, was a student at North Carolina State University.

Photo via Twitter

Police indicated the motive for the murder may have been a dispute over parking.

The American Dental Association released the following statement Wednesday, expressing sympathy to the family of the murdered dental student:

The American Dental Association is shocked and saddened by the loss of University of North Carolina dental student Deah Shaddy Barakat, who was shot and killed yesterday, as were his wife and sister-in-law.

“We mourn with Deah’s family and friends at this upsetting time,” said ADA President Dr. Maxine Feinberg. “The thoughts and prayers of the dental community go out to all who have suffered this tremendous loss, made even more painful by the alleged religious intolerance.”

Mr. Barakat was known as a generous spirit who volunteered with the Miswak Foundation, which conducts dental relief missions in underserved areas across the world.

On Wednesday, NBC News released the following courtroom video of Hicks being charged with the slayings.

In a statement posted today, University of North Carolina School of Dentistry Dean Jane A. Weintraub said, "This is an incredible tragedy for our school, the dental community and the University. Today, everyone here is grieving. Our deepest sympathy goes out to their families and friends."

The statement also included details about Barakat's history at the school and his personal relationship with Abu-Salha:

Deah was especially close to those of us at the School of Dentistry. A member of DDS 2017, Deah was known for his kindness, service-driven heart, love of basketball and his sincerity. A native of Raleigh, Deah earned his bachelor’s in business administration from N.C. State in 2013 prior to being admitted into our dental program. Deah was involved in many aspects of our dental school - including research with the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, serving as a co-president of the new Dental Student Ambassadors group and leading the charge for a dental mission trip to Turkey. He was well loved and respected within these walls, and we will feel his loss deeply.

Deah and Yusor were newlyweds, just recently married in December. Yusor, as many of you know, worked with the North Carolina Missions of Mercy clinics - like many of you did and continue to do - prior to her admission to dental school. We were all looking forward to getting to know her as a member of the UNC dental family beginning in April, and we grieve her loss as well.

Carl L. Folt, chancellor of the university, is expected to make a statement later today.

On YouCaring.com, donations for Barakat's "Project: Refuge Smiles" have continued to come in, exceeding the original goal of $20,000. According to the page, the UNC School of Dentistry and the Syrian-American Medical Society are organizing the trip to provide dental care to refugee students in Rihaniya, Turkey.

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