Indiana police are investigating the “execution style” murder of three Muslim youth who were found shot to death last week inside a Fort Wayne home.
Authorities responding to a "problem unknown" dispatch on Wednesday found 23-year-old Mohamed Taha Omar, 20-year-old Adam Kamel Mekki and 17-year-old Muhannad Adam Tairab dead after being shot multiple times.
Although local media described the three victims from Central African descent as Muslims, Darfur People's Association founder and vice president Motasim Adam, who visited with the victims families on Saturday, told The Associated Press on Sunday that Omar and Tairab were Muslim and Mekki was Christian.
Police have not identified a motive for the attack as yet, but Fort Wayne Safety Director Rusty York attempted to play down the suspicion that the crime was racially or religiously motivated- an increasing problem in the US.
"Hopefully, you know, we'll be able to focus in on exactly what the reason was, but as I said before, no reason to believe this was any type of hate crime, or focused because of their religion or their nationality whatsoever," he said.
Meanwhile, poor media coverage of the incident created a stir across social media, using the hashtag #OurThreeBoys.
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) February 28, 2016
— F E L I C I T Y (@FeliciTRON) February 28, 2016
Cousin of slain Boys in Fort Wayne made a FB statement pic.twitter.com/Au2BynIvSu
— TariqTouré طارق تورى (@TariqToure) February 29, 2016
Anti-Muslim bigotry has increased rapidly over the recent years, with many Muslim Americans facing direct abuse. There have also been an alarming trend of vandalism on mosques and religious centers.
Hate filled rhetoric by politicians are also believed to fuel the problem. Recently, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made reference to a so-called counter terrorism effort where bullets were reportedly dipped in pigs’ blood to execute Muslim detainees a century ago.
Suzanne Barakat, the sister of Chapel Hill shooting victim Deah Shaddy Barakat, who was killed last year in his home along with his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu Salha and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu Salha, challenged Trump after his speech and asked him to meet with her.
— Suzanne Barakat (@sbarakat210) February 20, 2016
The controversial Republican did not respond to her call.
Authorities will meet with the families of Omar and Tairab on Tuesday to hear about the ongoing investigation.