For weeks now, there have been a couple theories floating around about why Craig Stephen Hicks killed three Muslims (below) in Chapel Hill: One is that he was an atheist killing Muslims in a hate crime, while the other said he was furious over some parking dispute.
The New York Times‘ Jonathan M. Katz reports today that the parking theory seems very unlikely:
… interviews with more than a dozen of the victims’ friends and family members, lawyers, police officers and others make two central points: Before the shootings, the students took concerted steps to appease a menacing neighbor, and none were parked that day in a way that would have set off an incident involving their cars.
If those accounts do not prove what kind of malice was in Mr. Hicks’s heart, the details that emerge indicate that whatever happened almost certainly was not a simple dispute over parking.
He may have been “undeniably obsessed” with parking, but the students didn’t do anything that should have pissed him off. They didn’t park in his space. They didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Parking alone wasn’t the problem.
So was it his atheism? Katz writes:
There is no question Mr. Hicks had a problem with religion. His Facebook page was full of quotations and memes denigrating Christianity. On Jan. 27, he shared a graphic that may have made reference to Islam: “People say there is nothing that can solve the Middle East problem … I say there is something. Atheism.”
Actually, his Facebook page was full of quotations/memes mocking religion, not just one in particular. And the graphic mentioned above hardly suggests violence as the answer. It says that religion contributes to the fighting in the region and that’s undoubtedly true.
In the article — and in general — there is still no evidence of this being an anti-Muslim hate crime. There just isn’t. I’m not trying to defend Hicks, but posting irreligious memes online isn’t a warning sign that anyone’s a killer.
There’s no indication of any mental illness or depression, either, in case you’re wondering. As it stands, we just don’t know the motive yet. It’s possible we never will… unless Hicks offers up an explanation himself and, even then, would anyone believe him?
Unfortunately, many people have already made up their minds despite a lack of evidence.
Hicks’ guilt isn’t in doubt. But the reason he committed this awful crime very much is.