CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — If his Facebook page is any indication, Craig Hicks doesn’t hate Muslims. An avowed atheist, his online posts instead depict a man who despises religion itself, but nevertheless seems to support an individual’s right to his own beliefs.

“I hate Islam just as much as christianity, but they have the right to worship in this country just as much as any others do,” the man now accused of killing three Muslim college students stated in one 2012 post over the proposed construction of a mosque near the World Trade Center site in New York.

Days after the shooting deaths of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, a nuanced and sometimes contradictory portrait is emerging of the man charged in their slayings.

Local police said they have yet to uncover any evidence that Hicks, 46, allegedly acted out of religious animus. As a potential motive, they cited a dispute over parking spaces at the condo community where Hicks and two of the victims lived.

Hicks was being held without bond.

In Facebook rants, Hicks was brazen about his disdain for all faiths. In one post regarding specific texts from the Quran, the Jewish Talmud and the Bible about battling nonbelievers, he wrote: “I wish they would exterminate each other!”


But he was just as passionate about personal freedom and liberty – championing an individual’s right to worship or not worship, legal abortion and gay marriage and, perhaps most fervently, the right to own and bear arms. If he has a creed, it’s the Second Amendment.

“I guess after the horrible tragedy early this week in Arizona, all Glock pistols will officially be labeled ‘assault weapons,'” he wrote following the 2011 assassination attempt on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. “While I never cared for Glocks personally, it stinks that anyone would blame a firearm rather than the operator of such firearm for such a terrible act. I think I’ll start blaming McDonalds for my weight problem, Christianity for the Ku Klux Klan, and Islam for terrorism.”

Search warrants filed in court Friday listed a dozen firearms taken from Hicks’ condo unit, including a military-style AR-15 carbine. That’s in addition to a pistol the suspect had with him when he turned himself in.

Hicks’ 20-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, Sarah Hurley, told The Associated Press that she shut him out of her life permanently years ago “for not only disrespecting the religious beliefs of others but bashing them on social media.”

He and Cynthia Hurley, who lives outside of Raleigh, were divorced about 17 years ago.

An Illinois native, Hicks moved to North Carolina in 2005. He married again several years later, and he and new wife Karen set up house in her two-bedroom condo in Chapel Hill.


“I am very lucky,” he told one Facebook friend. “She’s incredibly smart also, but she must have a couple wires crossed somewhere to be with me!”

In a news conference after her husband’s arrest, Karen Hicks claimed to be as baffled as anyone about how a man who loves the Pittsburgh Steelers, the U.S. Constitution and dogs – especially his own black and brown mutt, Rocky – could have done something so vicious. She was adamant that the shootings stemmed from a long-simmering dispute over parking at their condo complex, not the victims’ faith.

Her lawyer said divorce proceedings are now underway.

Hicks had worked in auto parts sales for two decades but was studying full time in a paralegal technology program at Durham Technical Community College, where a spokeswoman called him a “diligent student.”

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