RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Three young people gunned down in a condominium in North Carolina were known and admired for helping and healing others, whether it was friends and next-door neighbors or refugees located thousands of miles away, friends and family said.
“They did more in their college years to leave a legacy than other people do in their entire lifetime,” Shafi Khan, a co-founder of United Muslim Relief in Alexandria, Virginia, said Wednesday.
Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill; his 21-year-old wife of less than two months, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha; and her 19-year-old sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha of Raleigh were shot to death Tuesday in what police described as a long-standing argument over parking spaces at the condominium complex where Barakat had lived for more than a year.
Police are trying to determine whether hate played any role in the killing of the three Muslims.
Here are some snapshots of their lives:
Deah Shaddy Barakat
Barakat, 23, appears in an online video appealing for money to help Syrian refugees with their dental needs. Barakat also packed small bags with toothbrushes, toothpaste and other dental hygiene supplies and sold them for $5 each at mosques around the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill region to help finance a trip the young married couple and other dental school students planned to take to Turkey this summer to treat refugees, said Ali Sajjad, 21, president of the Muslim Student Association at North Carolina State University, where both earned bachelor’s degrees.
Dozens of the bags that weren’t sold were given away to homeless people in Durham last month, Sajjad said. Barakat, whose family was from Syria, traveled to the West Bank with United Muslim Relief to perform dental work for special needs children, Khan said.
“He was a completely genuine guy. Loving, caring, friendly, smart,” said Muneeb Mustafa, 23, who knew Barakat since both were in high school. “He was an ideal human being. He was a role model. He was somebody that people would look up to and want to be just like him.”
Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha
Barakat and his new wife, Yusor, met a couple of years ago when both were on the board of the Muslim Student Association at North Carolina State University, and were engaged a few months later during the school’s winter break, Sajjad said. The couple married weeks after she graduated from NCSU in December, he said.
Yusor was accepted into the UNC-Chapel Hill dental school where Barakat was already enrolled and they lived in the Chapel Hill condo his family bought in 2013 and renovated.
“This was like the power couple of our community,” Sajjad said.
Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha
Razan loved French toast for breakfast and wanted to be an architect, but she was still drawn to help the needy, said her father, psychiatrist Mohammad Yousif Abu-Salha. All three volunteered in rural North Carolina clinics to help the uninsured and poor, he said. Razan “could not believe there could be men who were there with their children waiting from 1 a.m. on freezing nights in North Carolina to be admitted to a free dentistry clinic,” he said.
Razan became the school newspaper’s editor and her dedication to a good product saw her spend hours a week after school, said Patricia Hornick, an 11th-grade English teacher and journalism instructor at Raleigh’s Athens Drive High School.
“Razan was really good at getting a group of kids and kind of motivating them,” Hornick said.