WASHINGTON — Police have arrested a gunman in the killing of three Muslim students — including a husband and wife — in the university town of Chapel Hill in North Carolina, US news reports said on Wednesday.
The shooter, identified as Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was being held in Durham County Jail on three counts of first-degree murder, the Chapel Hill News and Observer newspaper and other news outlets said.
The victims were identified as Chapel Hill residents Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh.
Hicks turned himself in after the shooting Tuesday in Chapel Hill, just outside the campus of the University of North Carolina.
Reports said Barakat was a second-year student in dentistry there while his wife was planning to begin her dental studies in the fall.
Razan Abu-Salha was a student at North Carolina State University, according to the UNC university newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel.
A Facebook community — Our Three Winners — has been set up for posts about the three students.
“Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha have returned to their Lord,” the community’s creators state. “They have set an example in life and in death.”
The site features a photo of the three smiling at what appears to be graduation ceremony.
The women wear Muslim headscarves, one of them also in a blue graduation cap.
Police in Chapel Hill have not disclosed a possible motive for the attack. They were not immediately available for comment.
The police website released a statement confirming the three deaths and saying the department is “questioning a person of interest in the crime and has reason to believe that there is no ongoing threat to the public.”