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A community in mourning gathered Thursday for the funeral of three young adults fatally shot in their condo complex near the University of North Carolina. The shocking slayings of a husband and wife and her sister sparked fear in the Chapel Hill area's Muslim community that their deaths were part of a calculated hate-crime attack. But authorities investigating Tuesday's murders have said the accused killer — neighbor Craig Stephen Hicks — shot them over a long-simmering parking space dispute.
The funeral service was held on a field at North Carolina State University to accommodate the overflow crowd who came to mourn Deah Barakat, 23, a dentistry graduate student at UNC; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, who was planning to start her dental studies this fall; and her 19-year-old sister, Razan Abu-Salha, who was studying architecture and environmental design at NCSU.
The sisters' father, Mohammad Abu-Salha, remembered his daughters fondly and said newlyweds Deah and Yusor were having their "wedding in heaven." He also reiterated his belief that their deaths had "hate crime written all over it." "We don’t want revenge. We don’t care about revenge," Abu-Salha said. "We care about acknowledging this the way it is." He told MSNBC earlier Thursday that family members and various Muslim groups plan to send a letter to the Justice Department calling for the shooting to be investigated as a hate crime.