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3 people dead in Chapel Hill shooting

The shooting took place in condominiums near the Friday Center.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, of Chapel Hill.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, of Chapel Hill.

“Our investigators are exploring what could have motivated Mr. Hicks to commit such a senseless and tragic act," said Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue in a statement Wednesday morning.

"We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these young people who lost their lives so needlessly."

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt intends to release a message later this morning when there is more information, according to the release.

The victims are Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill; Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, of Chapel Hill; and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh.

Police have charged Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, of Chapel Hill, with three counts of first degree murder. Hicks is being held in the Durham County Jail.

The clock ticks to 7:42 p.m. Another woman breaks down after inquiring from police about her daughter and son-in-law.

At 8:05 p.m., a father screams, “It’s been hours! Just tell me if he’s alive!”

At 8:28 p.m., an uncle runs toward officers, begging for information about his nephew.

These were the scenes on Summerwalk Circle in Chapel Hill Tuesday night as police responded to a triple homicide at Finley Forest Condominiums.

Officers responded to a call about gunshots in the complex at 5:11 p.m. They discovered three victims, who were pronounced dead at the scene.

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Chapel Hill police questioned a person of interest Tuesday night and did not believe there was an ongoing threat to the public, according to a press release from the department.

At press time, police hadn’t released any identifying information about the three victims or the person in custody.

With little information available, officers patrolling the street could only direct distraught family members to the complex’s clubhouse and try to keep things under control.

“We just have to calm them down the best way we can,” said Officer Ron Telfair.

Telfair said the police department’s investigations team was responsible for notifying family members of those involved in the incident.

Even neighbors who were home at the time of the shooting have no answers from police.

Kristen Boling, a UNC psychology student who lives in the building where the shooting occurred, said she arrived home at 3:45 p.m. but didn’t hear or see anything until police arrived on the scene.

“It was a regular day when I got off the bus,” she said. “Now it’s chaos and confusion and they’re not telling us what’s going on.”

Another Finley Forest resident, Bethany Boring, said she didn’t expect something like this to happen in her neighborhood.

“It’s a really quiet community, a lot of graduate students, professionals and families,” she said. “I thought it was pretty safe.”

By 9 p.m., the dark street, lit only by flashing blue and orange police lights, was empty except for four police officers and a few lingering reporters.

Lt. Josh Mecimore, a spokesman for Chapel Hill police, said no more information would be available until Wednesday.

The University made counseling services available overnight. Students can call 919-966-3658 during regular business hours.

“We know many of you may be feeling unsettled by this news,” an Alert Carolina message said.

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