Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement this evening that he’s “made available the full resources of the Department of Justice to help ensure that justice will be served” in the case of the three Muslim students killed in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Craig Hicks, 46, turned himself into police after Deah Shaddy Barakat, Barakat’s wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, were killed on Tuesday. Police said initial evidence points to a parking dispute, but the family claims they were targeted because of their faith.
President Obama made his first statement on the crime today as well, announcing that the FBI would be probing to see if federal laws were violated. “No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship,” he said.
Holder said he was “shocked and saddened” by the “heinous murders.” All three youths were shot in the head in their apartment.
“The Department’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of North Carolina, have opened a parallel preliminary inquiry to determine whether any federal laws, including hate crime laws, were violated,” Holder continued.
“Protecting the safety and securing the civil rights of everyone in this country is, and must always remain, a top priority for today’s Department of Justice. We will never waver in this commitment. And going forward, we pledge to stand with the families of these three remarkable young people – and with all whose lives were touched by this tragedy – as they begin the long road to healing.”
The administration’s response comes a day after Washington was chided by Islamist Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for not saying anything about the crime.
“If you stay silent when faced with an incident like this, and don’t make a statement, the world will stay silent towards you,” Erdoğan said, calling the silence Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry “telling.”