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How 10 years of crime and public safety incidents affected the Chapel Hill community


Over the past 10 years, several crimes and public safety incidents have affected, transformed and united the University and greater Chapel Hill community. Here is a look back at some of the biggest cases. 

2011: Occupy Chapel Hill movement/raid

People involved with Occupy Chapel Hill were arrested and put on CHT buses.

Occupy Chapel Hill, a regional offshoot of the national Occupy Wall Street movement that hoped to bring attention to social and political issues, began an occupation of the Peace and Justice Plaza on Oct. 15, 2011. Occupants set up tents and remained on Franklin Street into 2012. 

On Nov. 13, 2011, after protesters began occupying the former Yates Motor Company building at 419 W. Franklin St., gun-wielding Chapel Hill Police raided the building. Eight protesters were arrested for misdemeanor breaking and entering. 

The raid was a turning point in the Occupy Chapel Hill movement, but participants remained at the Peace and Justice Plaza until Jan. 10, 2012. 

2012: Faith Hedgepeth homicide

Rolanda Hedgepeth still visits her sister Faith's grave about 4 times a week.

On Sept. 7, 2012, UNC junior Faith Hedgepeth was beaten to death in her off-campus apartment. Hedgepeth was 19 years old and from Hollister, North Carolina. Her murder is still unsolved.

Police collected and analyzed DNA left at the scene by a male and, four years after her death, Chapel Hill Police released a composite of the suspect. The police department originally sealed all documents about the case and only released them two years after her death. 

Hedgepeth’s legacy has not been forgotten. The Faith Hedgepeth Memorial Scholarship has assisted several Native American women from North Carolina tribes to earn a higher education. 

2012: David Shannon death

David Shannon

David Shannon, a UNC first-year, was found dead on Oct. 27, 2012, after a 30-foot fall from a concrete mixer at a plant in Carrboro. Shannon’s death was originally investigated for ties to hazing, though no connection was ever found.

An autopsy report showed that Shannon had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.22 at the time of his death. In the months following Shannon’s death, allegations of hazing and alcohol violations within Chi Phi and other fraternities were investigated by the University.  

Three scholarship memorials have been named in memory of Shannon — one at Myers Park High School, one at UNC and another at Carmel Baptist Church in Charlotte.

2015: Chapel Hill shooting

(From left) Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha lost their lives Feb. 10, 2015. (Courtesy of the Abu-Salha family)

On Feb. 10, 2015, police responded to a call about gunshots at Finley Forest Condominiums. Officers soon realized they were dealing with a triple homicide. 

Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, the three Muslim victims, were pronounced dead at the scene. The deaths of Barakat, a UNC dental student, his wife Yusor and her sister Razan were felt deeply by the UNC and Chapel Hill community.

The Our Three Winners Foundation was created to honor the lives of those killed, continue their legacy of humanitarianism and philanthropy, and to raise awareness and solutions about hate-driven crimes.

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Craig Stephen Hicks, the shooter and neighbor of the victims, was charged with three counts of first degree murder. In June 2019, Hicks pleaded guilty to all three changes and was sentenced to three consecutive sentences of life in prison without parole. Hicks was also sentenced to 64-89 months for the charge of shooting into an occupied dwelling.

Hicks is currently serving his sentence in Scotland Correctional Institution in Laurinburg, North Carolina. 

2015: The Kania case

Former UNC student Chandler Kania sits at the front of the Battle Court Room in the Orange County Court House as the jury deliberates his case on Oct. 14, 2016.

On Oct. 17, 2016, an Orange County jury found former UNC student Chandler Kania guilty of three counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of reckless driving. The conviction came over a year after the July 19, 2015 crash in which Kania was driving drunk on the wrong side of I-85 and crashed into another car. 

The crash resulted in the death of three passengers, and left one passenger seriously injured. 

Kania, a native of Asheboro, was a 20-year-old UNC sophomore at the time of the 2015 crash and was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the crash. After six days of testimony and two days of jury deliberation, Kania was convicted of three counts of involuntary manslaughter, as opposed to second degree murder which requires malice. 

Kania was sentenced to 12 years and eight months minimum to 16 years and 4 months maximum in prison. He is currently serving his sentence in the Craggy Correctional Center, located near Asheville, North Carolina. 


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