Craig Stephen Hicks
Craig Stephen Hicks is an American man who committed a mass shooting at Finley Forest Condominiums on Summerwalk Circle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on February 10, 2015, killing three people. He turned himself in to Chapel Hill police later that day.
On June 12, 2019, Hicks pleaded guilty to the shooting and was sentenced to three consecutive terms of life imprisonment.
Craig Stephen Hicks was studying to become a paralegal at Durham Technical Community College at the time of the shooting. He had moved to Chapel Hill in 2005 from Bethalto, Illinois. He has been divorced twice, with one marriage lasting only five months.
Though he was described by the school as an "exemplary student", Hicks was described by neighbors as threatening. In 2013, he reported a dispute between a tow truck driver and a car's owner to police, and walked to the parking lot with a gun. A friend of Yusor stated that Hicks was "holding a rifle" while complaining about extra cars in the neighborhood and noise from their game of Risk. Another resident and a friend of Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha told the Associated Press that:
" Hicks complained about once a month that the two men were parking in a visitor's space as well as their assigned spot. 'He would come over to the door. Knock on the door and then have a gun on his hip saying 'you guys need to not park here.' ... Both Hicks and his neighbors complained to the property managers who warned them to call the police if they were harassed again. "
Hicks had a fixation on the 1993 movie Falling Down strong enough for his ex-wife to make specific mention of it after the shootings. The movie centered on a divorced and unemployed man who suffers a mental breakdown and goes on a violent rampage. She described Hicks as "watching it incessantly" and finding the movie "hilarious", showing "no compassion at all"
Hicks posted on Facebook comments and images that were critical of all religions and religious violence, and his profile read "Atheists for Equality". He was critical of Christian opponents of the Park51 project, stating: "Seems an overwhelming majority of Christians in this country feel that the Muslims are using the Ground Zero mosque plans to 'mark their conquest' ... bunch of hypocrites, everywhere I've been in this country there are churches marking the Christian conquest of this country from the Native Americans." He also posted, "I hate Islam just as much as Christianity, but they have the right to worship in this country just as much as any others do," and also opined on the same page that it would be OK if we had a Muslim president. Hicks had set a banner image on his page to one stating: "I don't deny you your right to believe whatever you'd like; but I have the right to point out it's ignorant and dangerous for as long as your baseless superstitions keep killing people." In another Facebook post, Hicks stated: "I give your religion as much respect as your religion gives me ... there's nothing complicated about it, and I have every right to insult a religion that goes out of its way to insult, to judge, and to condemn me as an inadequate human being—which your religion does with self-righteous gusto." His wife described Hicks as a champion of individual's rights, and said "This incident had nothing to do with religion or the victims' faith but was related to a longstanding parking dispute that my husband had with the neighbors." Neighbors confirmed that Hicks had frequently complained about parking and noise issues for years, and would confront residents while armed.
On February 10, 2015, local police in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, responded to a report of gunshots heard at 5:15 p.m. Upon arriving at the Finley Forest Condominiums, located on Summerwalk Circle at Chapel Hill, a woman told them a friend was bleeding, and directed them to a condominium. There, they found Barakat lying dead in the front doorway bleeding from the head. One of the Abu-Salha sisters was found dead in the kitchen, with the other lying in the doorway of that room. All three victims had been killed with gunshot wounds to the head, and were pronounced dead at the scene.
According to prosecutors, the suspect shot Barakat multiple times at the doorway after the latter opened the door in response to his knocking. He then allegedly entered the living room and shot the Abu-Salha sisters in the head, then shot Barakat again before leaving. According to autopsies, the Abu-Salha sisters were shot execution-style.
In June 2019 it was reported that Deah Barakat had recorded the encounter with Hicks on his cellphone camera. The recording shows Hicks complaining that Barakat and the Abu-Salha sisters were taking more parking spaces than the condo rules allow, before Hicks opens fire with his gun.
A witness outside told police he had heard shots and saw a man leaving the condominium and driving off in a gold car. Police found eight shell casings in the living room and a bullet somewhere else inside in the home, according to a warrant. They seized three cellphones, a watch, two sets of keys, and Barakat's wallet and keychain.
Hicks turned himself in to sheriff's deputies in nearby Pittsboro on the night of the shooting. He was in possession of a .357-caliber handgun at the time. Investigators later positively matched the handgun's ballistics to the shell casings found in the apartment.