Chapel Hill: Opinion

The Conversation: Carol Folt, Christopher Harlos Bruce Lightner, Haris Raja

The caskets are carried to waiting vehicles after the funerals for Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21,and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, at the Method Road Soccer Complex on N.C. State's campus in Raleigh on Thursday.
The caskets are carried to waiting vehicles after the funerals for Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21,and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, at the Method Road Soccer Complex on N.C. State's campus in Raleigh on Thursday.

Profound sadness

It is with profound sadness that I write to you this morning about the tragic loss of three young people from our community. As most of you likely have heard, last night there was a shooting at a condominium complex near campus that took their lives all too soon. Sadly, Deah Barakat, a student in the School of Dentistry, and his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, who had planned to begin her dental studies at Carolina next fall, were killed, along with Yusor’s sister, Razan Abu-Salha, an undergraduate at North Carolina State University.

This is a tremendous loss to the Carolina and N.C. State campuses, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families, fellow students, faculty and friends of these three very promising students. Deah and Yusor, who both were from Raleigh and graduated recently from N.C. State, had just been married and were preparing for careers that had so much potential to help others. Razan, a sophomore from Raleigh, was majoring in environmental design in architecture at N.C. State.

The Chapel Hill Police Department have charged an individual, and the University is cooperating fully with police in the investigation. Police have reassured the community that there is no ongoing threat in connection with this tragedy. In addition, Chapel Hill police said their preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking, but continues to investigate and exhaust every lead to determine if this was hate-motivated. Please know that our highest priority is the safety and security of students, faculty, staff and visitors on Carolina’s campus and in the surrounding community. I would like to thank the Chapel Hill Police Department and first responders for their hard work on this investigation.

Such an act of violence goes against the very fiber of our community and society. It also creates a sense of vulnerability for all of us, especially members of the Muslim community. I am in touch with the Muslim community and students and will continue to be in conversation with them. While the Chapel Hill police continue to gather facts, Carolina has and will remain focused on supporting all members of our community. Plans are underway for a community vigil this evening and details will be shared this afternoon.

Dean Jane Weintraub has gathered the students, faculty and staff in the School of Dentistry so they can come together during this tragedy. The University is offering on-site support and counseling for them. The greater Carolina community also has resources to help us with our grief. We encourage students to call Counseling and Psychological Services (919-966-3658), and faculty and staff to contact our Employee Assistance Program (877-314-5841), if you would like support.

My gratitude goes to all of you for your understanding and kindness as our community draws strength from one another at this very difficult time.

Carol L. Folt

UNC Chancellor

Editor’s note: Folt released this statement Wednesday.

Religious bigotry

As an American, my heart goes out to the families of the three Muslim students who were brutally murdered in Chapel Hill, allegedly by a 46-year-old Caucasian male. As a Muslim, my heart sank when I read that there is a “possibility that this was a hate-motivated” crime based on the victims’ religion.

The rise of Islamophobia since 9-11, has led several states to pass anti-sharia laws in the country. A vehement reaction by Franklin Graham on merely allowing a Muslim call to prayer from the chapel bell tower at the Duke University is another recent example of anti-Muslim bigotry. And now, this anti-Muslim bigotry has possibly led to violence against Muslims here in the U.S.

Muslims are less than 1 percent of the U.S. population. If there is even less than 1 percent possibility that the Chapel Hill killings were motivated by religious bigotry, as a Muslim I am concerned.

Haris Raja

Ashburn, Va.

O Chapel Hill

O Chapel Hill! How I weep for thee.

• Lucille Rinaldi, 1963

• Suellen Evans, 1965

• Bob Sheldon, 1991

• Kristin Lodge-Miller, 1993

• Kevin Riechart, 1995

• Ralph Walker, 1995

• James Sapikowsky, 2008

• Allison Sapikowky, 2008

• Josh Bailey, 2008

• Eve Carson, 2011

• Drew Frasure, 2011

• Faith Hedgepeth, 2012

• Chahnaz Kebaier, 2012

• David Lee Goodman, 2013

• Darryn Maurice Dye, 2013

• Feng Lui, 2014

• Deah Shaddy Barakat, 2015

• Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 2015

• Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 2015

Christopher Harlos

Chapel Hill

Shared humanity

Although I'm not a Muslim nor a UNC or NCSU college student I nonetheless did attend the memorial service at UNC. There was an outpouring of love there from many races and cultures. More than anything else last night was a very good example of our shared humanity.

This bizarre incident has shocked American sensibilities and sucked the oxygen out of media reports nationwide. It is completely appropriate for the FBI to determine if this was a “hate crime” or not.

In reality these senseless killings, here at home, reinforces the need for America to get a better grip on just how and why such a madman could be given permission to have a gun.

The FBI has the tools to dig deeply into background of the killer and come up with a conclusion that makes some sense.

Bruce Lightner