Chapel Hill shooting victims honoured at Edmonton vigil
Families of victims pushing to have shooting considered a hate crime
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.
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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.