The father of two female Muslim students shot dead at their home in North Carolina called on mourners to "celebrate" their memory yesterday and said the deaths had "hate crime written all over" them.
The funerals of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19, took place yesterday (Thursday) in Chapel Hill, where the murders were carried out on Tuesday.
All three victims were shot in the head at close range in an alleged parking row.
Gunman Craig Hicks handed himself in to police and has been charged with three counts of murder.
Speaking at the funeral service, Dr Mohammad Abu-Salah, a psychiatrist, asked those who had been following the events in Chapel Hill to celebrate the victims' memories.
"Please, think about them," he said. "Celebrate them and believe.
"This is Islam.
"It's not what you hear in the media, it's not American Sniper movie. This is Islam. These three angels."
Local police, assisted by the FBI, have said they will investigate any possible racial or religious motive for the killing.
At the nearby Durham Technical Community College where Hicks was studying to be a paralegal, teachers described him as an "exemplary student" who did not mingle too much with other students, but had appeared normal at class on the day of the shooting.
Other neighbours and witnesses said that Hicks, who peppered his Facebook page with anti-religious material aimed at both Christians and Muslims, was well known locally as a difficult and confrontational character.
"Anytime that I saw him or saw interaction with him or friends or anyone in the parking lot or myself, he was angry," Samantha Maness, a woman who lives near the scene told reporters.
Hicks, 46, who is due in court on March 4, is said to be cooperating with police.