At the time, Craig Hicks said he witnessed a simple assault in the parking lot of Finley Forest Condominiums. Craig Hicks saw someone grab a tow truck operator’s arm during an argument over a towing, said Lt. Josh Mecimore, a spokesman for the Chapel Hill Police Department.
Craig Hicks was only a reporting party in the December 2013 incident, Mecimore said.
The next time Chapel Hill police recorded interacting with Craig Hicks, officers were questioning him as a person of interest in Tuesday’s triple homicide.
Chapel Hill police charged 46-year-old Craig Hicks with three counts of first-degree murder after Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were shot and killed at the Finley Forest complex Tuesday evening.
Craig Hicks turned himself in to law enforcement on Tuesday and was arraigned on three separate counts of first-degree murder at the Durham County Courthouse on Wednesday. He will be appointed a public defender.
Craig Hicks was transferred to Central Prison on Wednesday afternoon for safekeeping, according to reports from WRAL. He is being held without bond.
The three victims were Muslim, which led many people on social media sites to speculate that the shooting was a hate-motivated crime.
But Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said the initial investigation suggested the shooting was motivated by an ongoing dispute over parking.
“Our investigators are exploring what could have motivated Mr. Hicks to commit such a senseless and tragic act,” Blue said. “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.”
Karen Hicks said she firmly believes her husband’s actions weren’t motivated by hate.
“We were married for seven years, and that is one thing that I do know about him,” she said. “He often champions on his Facebook page for the rights of many.”
Craig Hicks’ Facebook profile picture is a banner that reads “atheists for equality.”
In January, he posted a picture that said, “I just support this crazy thought that everyone should have equal rights.”
In the same month, he also posted a photo of a gun, calling it his “loaded 38 revolver.”
Karen Hicks looked shaken at Wednesday’s press conference, which took place at her attorney’s office on Couch Road in Chapel Hill.
The Maitland Law Firm attorneys made it clear they were representing Karen Hicks and not her husband.
“He just believes — and I know that’s just one of the things I know about him — that everyone is equal,” she said. “It just doesn’t matter what you look like or who you are or what you believe. That’s one thing I do know.”