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Podcast Roundup: A Personal and Poetic Look at the Chapel Hill Shooting

Photo: Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and Razan Abu Salha
Our Three Winners

On February 10th, 2015, Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha were shot and killed execution-style in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Their neighbor, Craig Hicks, was quickly arrested and charged with the crime. But what happened that night? Why? And what does it mean for us now?

Stories with a Heartbeat is a new podcast about the human condition in conflict. Host Will McInerney is an award-winning poet who travels the globe exploring conflict and what it says about us as people. This podcast taps into the power of poetry, stories and conversation to help us decipher conflict and find meaning.  

In the first five episodes, McInerney explored the tragic murders of Deah, Yusor, and Razan. Stories with a Heartbeat brings you an intimate perspective of the night of the crime from family members, a global story of their legacy from the Syrian border, a heartfelt moment where the police chief admits mistakes and makes it personal, and a powerful poetic performance from one of the victims friends. 

Subscribe to the Podcast on: iTunes // Google Play // Stitcher 

You can listen to the 5-part series on the Chapel Hill Shooting below.

  Episode 1: Listening

A picture of Farris Barakat in Istanbul, Turkey.
Credit Will McInerney / WUNC


An image of a memorial for the three Muslim-Americans
Credit Will McInerney

  Episode 2: Searching for Light 

In Reyhanli, Turkey, a stone's throw away from the Syrian Civil War, there is a dental clinic for refugee children. In the front entrance there is a pixelated picture of three smiling faces taped to the wall. In white Arabic script it says, “We will not forget you.” The name of this facility is the Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha, and Razan Abu Salha Dental Clinic. In Episode Two of Stories with a Heartbeat we learn about the details of the crime in Chapel Hill with reporter Reema Khrais, and we travel to the other side of the world with host Will McInerney to witness the power of their legacy in action along the Syrian border.

Dr. Sarah Arif of Cleveland and Farris Barakat help a boy at the temporary Syrian American Medical Society dental clinic at the Al-Salaam School in Reyhanli.
Credit Alena Advic

  Episode 3: Sidra's Smile

Before Deah Barakat was murdered, he raised money to support the dental needs of Syrian refugees and planned to go volunteer along the border in the summer. After his death, Deah’s brother Farris made that trip and delivered the money and supplies Deah raised. In Episode Three of Stories with a Heartbeat, we join Farris on his journey to complete Deah's mission, and we learn about a deep connection Farris made with one young refugee who embodied the spirit of Deah with her simple and elusive smile.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue
Credit Chris Blue

  Episode 4: Breakfast Conversations

Reporter Reema Khrais and Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue vividly remember the morning after the triple murder of Deah, Yusor, and Razan. While Reema balanced her personal connections and professional responsibilities, Chief Blue released a statement about the alleged parking dispute motive in the crime, one that he now regrets. In Episode Four of Stories with a Heartbeat, Chief Blue tells a personal story about remorse, regret, and the moment his daughter told him he was wrong, “You can’t say that.”

Photo of poet Mohammad Moussa performing on stage.
Credit Will McInerney / WUNC

  Episode 5: Shattered Glass

Poet Mohammad Moussa believes his friend Deah Barakat was murdered in a hate crime; and he refuses to remain silent. Shattered Glass, Mohammad’s multi-media spoken word poetry show is a year of reflection and mourning wrapped in the power of storytelling and signed with a poet’s pen. It’s a demand for answers and accountability, and it’s a journey that leaves us both broken and whole. In Episode Five of Stories with a Heartbeat, host Will McInerney sits down with Mohammad Moussa to talk about poetry, processing, and parking disputes.

Subscribe to Stories with a Heartbeat.

Will McInerney is an award-winning spoken word poet, storyteller, educator, and journalist specializing in the intersection of conflict resolution and creative expression. Will hosts and produces Stories with a Heartbeat, a new podcast that explores the complexity of the human condition in conflict through poetry, stories, and conversation. In addition, Will helps with education reporting and produces the My Teacher Project.
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