The ex-wife of the man suspected of murdering three Muslim students Tuesday near the University of North Carolina described him as a person with “no compassion” who was obsessed with a movie about a shooting rampage.
Cynthia Hurley, who said she and Craig Stephen Hicks divorced 17 years ago, told the Associated Press that she had always been disturbed by Hicks’ fixation on the 1993 film “Falling Down.” The movie, which stars Michael Douglas, follows an engineer struggling with unemployment and divorce as he goes on a shooting rampage through Los Angeles.
“That always freaked me out,” Hurley told the AP. “He watched it incessantly. He thought it was hilarious. He had no compassion at all.”
Hicks, 46, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting the three victims to death. The victims were identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; Barakat’s wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and Abu-Salha’s sister Razan, 19.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina police suggested that a long-running parking dispute between Hicks and his neighbors may have been a factor in the shooting but did not otherwise offer a clear motive for the crime. Officials said they were investigating the possibility of a hate crime.
A Facebook page that appeared to belong to Hicks showed that he identified as an “anti-theist” who often criticized Christianity and Islam alike. He also expressed a strong interest in gun rights and posted a photo of a .38 revolver a few weeks before the shooting.
Hicks’ current wife, Karen Diane Haggerty, described her husband after the shooting as a champion of the rights of gays and minorities.
“This incident had nothing to do with religion or the victims’ faith but was related to a longstanding parking dispute that my husband had with the neighbors,” she told reporters, as quoted by USA Today.