The L.A. Times Comes Up Empty in New Search For Motive in Chapel Hill Killings of Three Young Muslims April 20, 2015

The L.A. Times Comes Up Empty in New Search For Motive in Chapel Hill Killings of Three Young Muslims

I had to triple-check the date on this Los Angeles Times story.

Craig Stephen Hicks murdered Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha on February 10, allegedly over an ongoing parking dispute. Frenzied speculation ensued about the motive, with even some atheists jumping to conclusions and writing that Hicks’ hard-line godlessness just had to be the real impetus for the horrible slaying of the three young Muslims.

Last week, the Times sent reporter David Zucchino to the scene of the crime, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. While there, Zucchino (I assume) did all the necessary legwork, interviewed all kinds of sources, and uncovered… nothing. For all intents and purposes, his piece is indistinguishable from ones that were published 24 to 48 hours after the shooting. In other words, we still don’t know with any certainty why Hicks did what he did.

There is information in Zucchino’s story about just how weirdly invested Hicks was in policing the parking situation in the immediate vicinity of his home.

Hicks was the domineering crank of Summerwalk Circle, obsessed with parking and noise. He called tow trucks so often to remove perceived parking offenders that the towing company stopped responding to his calls. A police search warrant said Hicks “kept pictures and detailed notes on parking activity.” Concerned residents held a community meeting last year to discuss what to do about Hicks’ outbursts, said neighbor Samantha Maness, 25. “He made everyone feel uncomfortable and unsafe,” Maness said, but nothing came of the meeting.

This is not news, but it’s grist for the mill for those who believe that a row over parking was the sole or main motive.

The frustrating reality is that, more than two months after the shocking shooting, we’re still no closer to a definitive answer. It’s not clear from Zucchino’s article whether he managed to find sources in the Chapel Hill PD — or at the FBI, which has been investigating the murders since February 12. Law enforcement, most likely, knows a lot more than the reporter was able to unearth. I hope so, anyway.

For those of us who’ve been watching this unfold, the status of the case is the same on April 20 as it was on February 11: We’ll just have to wait and see.

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