Photos by Andrew

The UNC Charlotte Muslim Student Association hosted a vigil Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. for three Muslim students who were shot and killed at UNC Chapel Hill on Feb. 10.   Members of the campus and local community lit candles to pay their respects and show support for the fallen students.

The vigil began and concluded with three minutes of silence, one for each victim. Close to 200 people huddled together at the Fretwell Quad with signs and candles showing their support.

One of the many in the crowd was UNC Charlotte’s Chancellor, Philip Dubois.

“The university is a community of people and it’s a very diverse community and it is nice to know that when one part of that community feels threatened everybody feels threatened and will come together to reaffirm some core values that matter to everybody,” said Dubois.

Police initially said the shooting was result of “an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking,” but family and supporters of the victims are calling for the shooting to be investigated as a religious hate crime.

The victims of the shooting are Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha. UNC Charlotte Muslim Student Association President, Naqash Choudhery said Deah was a good friend of his.

“He was an inspiring young man, he was very generous, whole-heartedly kind and always cared about others,” said Choudhery, “There is nothing negative, he has no negativity to him and the people here show that.”

Students shared that this shooting hits very close to home on a campus known for diversity and acceptance.

“One thing in the UNC system, is that every school prides itself on diversity and acceptance.  We see students of all different religions and races, and we all have a very unique opportunity to be in places of such cultural diversity and it is a shame to not take that opportunity and learn from it,” said senior Megan Hennings.

Choudhery noted that the students’ lives will not be forgotten.

“The three people that died, they didn’t die for no reason.  Their actions, character and ability to be role models for us has lived on today.  People are here to show support for them and be thankful for what they did for us,” he said.

Andrew James is a Senior Communication Studies major and Journalism minor. He has worked for the Niner Times in the news and video departments since his freshman year at UNC Charlotte. After college, Andrew aspires to be a television news reporter. Outside of school, Andrew enjoys running and hiking in the mountains.