On Tuesday evening, three people were shot to death near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
University officials identified the victims as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.
A friend of Barakat — who also knew his wife and her sister — told BuzzFeed News that the three victims were Muslim. He and Barakat attended the same mosque, he added.
Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23 years old.
Barakat was a second-year student in the School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina.
Barakat's parents were Layla Fanary Barakat and Namee Barakat. He described them as "the greatest parents a kid can ask for."
On Dec. 27 last year, he married Yusor Abu-Salha, who planned to begin dental studies at the same university. The couple were both victims of the shooting.
Last year, Barakat — a Syrian-American — helped raise thousands of dollars for dental care for victims of the Syrian crisis.
Barakat fundraised for Syrian Dental Relief with Ali Heydary, a fellow dentistry student.
"In Syria, brave dentists and assistants risk their lives to provide their services, despite deliberate attacks on their clinics," the pair wrote. "These incredible individuals volunteer their time, but lack basic necessities to continue their important work."
Barakat was an active Facebook user. He regularly shared topical videos and photos of his life.
He recently shared a video on Facebook of Iranian-American writer Reza Aslan criticising the media for "generalisation and bigotry when reporting on Muslims." In another post, he shared a Media Matters video he described as "the perfect explanation of why ISIS isn't Islam."
Barakat was an avid Twitter user who regularly tweeted about football and basketball. In January, he tweeted the following:
Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21 years old.
Abu-Salha married Deah Barakat last December.
The pair got engaged in February 2013. Friends described them as a "beautiful couple."
Abu-Salha studied human biology at the North Carolina State University and graduated last year.
Abu-Salha graduated from Athens Drive High School in 2011.
She had planned to begin her dental studies at the School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina.
Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19 years old.
Razan was a student at North Carolina State University. She studied architecture and environmental design.
She graduated from Athens Drive High School in 2013.
Razan supported charities such as Global Deaf Muslim, which advocates for equal access to Islam for the deaf and hard of hearing.
She was the sister of Yusor Abu-Salha, who was also a victim of the shooting.
A memorial Facebook page dedicated to the three victims has been set up that describes them as "our three winners."
The page description says it is "intended to facilitate communication and will hopefully carry on their legacy of service, great character and joy for life."
Deah, Yusor, and Razan are described as people who "set an example in life and in death."
At a news conference on Wednesday, Deah Barakat's family described the slain trio as "gems of their community."
“Six weeks ago I cried tears of joy at my baby’s brother’s wedding, today we are crying tears of unimagined pain,” his elder sister Suzanne told reporters.
“We are still in a state of shock and we will never be able to make sense of this horrendous tragedy,” she said.
Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Rossalyn Warren at email@example.com.
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