Police in Chapel Hill, NC, have cited an "ongoing neighbor dispute over parking" as the trigger for today's triple homicide, but the father of two of the victims says the real reason goes deeper than that. “It was execution style, a bullet in every head,” Mohammad Abu-Salha tells the Raleigh News & Observer. “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime." Abu-Salha maintains that Craig Stephen Hicks shot his daughters Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19, along with Yusor's husband, Deah Barakat, 23, because they were Muslim. He said his elder daughter complained a week ago of having a neighbor who "hates us for what we are and how we look."
Authorities say they are looking into posts by the 46-year-old Hicks on social media in which the self-avowed atheist seems to mock religion in general, and the Chapel Hill police chief says investigators will "exhaust every lead" to determine whether hate-crime charges are warranted, reports AP. Hicks' wife, Karen, says they are not. "I can say that it is my absolute belief that this incident had nothing up do with religion or the victims' faith, but in fact was related to long-standing parking disputes my husband had with various neighbors regardless of their race, religion, or creed," she says. Barakat and his wife had just been married in December, and the UNC dentistry student had started an online campaign to raise funds to pay for Syrian refugees' dental work, reports NPR. He also planned to visit Syria this summer to help in person.