Police say they will probe possible bias crime in shooting deaths

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina say they’ll be trying to find out whether the killings of three members of a family near the University of North Carolina were a hate crime.

The three victims were Muslims, and the shooting deaths prompted speculation about possible religious bias.

Police say the three victims — a woman, her newlywed husband and her sister — were killed by a neighbor following a long-running dispute about parking.

Craig Hicks is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He appeared briefly in court today and is being held without bond. Police say he turned himself in and is cooperating.

Police said a preliminary investigation showed that the parking dispute was the motive. But outrage spread among some American Muslims who viewed the homicides as an outgrowth of anti-Muslim opinions.

The slain couple had graduated from North Carolina State, and one was studying to be a dentist at UNC. The sister was an undergraduate at N.C. State.

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