Chapel Hill shooting victims honoured at Edmonton vigil

Almost 150 people braved freezing rain Friday night to pay their respects at a candlelight vigil for three Muslim students who were gunned down in North Carolina

Families of victims pushing to have shooting considered a hate crime

A man kneels to light a candle in honour of the three people shot in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (CBC)

Almost 150 people braved freezing rain Friday night in Edmonton to pay their respects at a candlelight vigil for three Muslim students who were gunned down in North Carolina.

"I feel sorry for the families. For the two families," said Rasha El-Mallah who attended the vigil along with her 12-year-old daughter.

Tuesday, three university students — Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19 — were shot dead inside an apartment in Chapel Hill.

Mourners in Edmonton lit candles and created banners, hoping to call attention to the killings. Many carried signs or banners marked with the #MuslimLivesMatter hashtag, which has become a rallying point online for those raising awareness of the shootings.

Aaron Wannamaker, a communications assistant with the Muslim Association of Canada, helped organize the multi-faith vigil.

He says he's disappointed the shootings got so little media coverage.

"Had it been the other way around — one Muslim gunman killing three people — everyone would've been all over it," he said.

Police are still investigating the motive of the alleged shooter, a 46-year-old man. Investigators say it may have begun with a neighbour’s anger over a parking dispute, although the family of the victims is pushing to have the shooting treated as a hate crime.

Many at the vigil believed the victims were killed because of their religion.

"I don't believe it's just a parking spot ... for a man to take a gun and kill three people," said El-Mallah.

The accused shooter now faces charges of first-degree murder. 

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