North Carolina shooting said not part of campaign against Muslims

US attorney says murder of three Muslim students was not linked to religion-based motives.

 Deah Shaddy Barakat and his wife Yusor Mohammad (photo credit: TWITTER)
Deah Shaddy Barakat and his wife Yusor Mohammad
(photo credit: TWITTER)
The shootings of three Muslim students near the University of North Carolina campus "are not part of a targeted campaign against Muslims," US Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina Ripley Rand told reporters on Wednesday.
Craig Stephen Hicks, a 46-year-old white man who had posted anti-religious messages on Facebook, was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the shootings on Tuesday.
According to the British newspaper the Independent, the three Muslims, who were all from the same family, were in their home when a 46-year-old man identified by police as Craig Stephen Hicks gunned them down.
The victims have been named as Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.
Barakat was a dental student at the University of North Carolina. According to the Independent, he had spent time as a volunteer giving free dental care to Palestinian children.
His Twitter account features posts about local sports as well as matters relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A glance at the suspect's Facebook page reveals a number of atheist-inspired posts as well as one photograph of a gun being weighed on a scale.
In response to the gruesome murder, a number of prominent atheists took to social media to issue condemnations.