The American Student Dental Association is saddened to learn of the death of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry student Deah Shaddy Barakat. A second-year and ASDA member, Barakat was shot and killed on Tuesday, Feb. 10, as were his wife and sister-in-law. ASDA is shocked to hear this tragic news and offers thoughts and condolences to the families of the victims.
A suspect is in custody and authorities currently believe the shooting was over a parking dispute, although The Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked local law enforcement to address speculation that the murders could be a hate-crime due to the victims’ religion.
“This is an especially difficult time for ASDA and the dental community. We have lost valued colleagues in Deah and his wife who was to enter dental school next fall,” said ASDA President Kristopher Mendoza, a fourth-year dental student at the University of California Los Angeles School of Dentistry. “We are deeply saddened by the news of their passing.”
Barakat was an active volunteer for the Miswak Foundation which conducts dental relief missions in underserved areas around the world. Before he died, Barakat was preparing for a dental outreach trip to Turkey to provide dental care for Syrian refugees who have been displaced due to the Syrian civil war. The online fundraising campaign he created with a goal of $20,000 had raised more than $200,000 for the Syrian American Medical Society as of Thursday morning.
“Through his unselfish actions, Deah reminds us all that dentistry goes far beyond treating the oral cavity—it’s about caring for people,” said Mendoza. “We will greatly miss his dedication and commitment to serving others.”
Barakat’s wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, had been admitted to UNC School of Dentistry in the incoming class of 2019. His sister, Razan Mohommad, was a sophomore at N.C. State University.
UNC School of Dentistry Dean Jane Weintraub, DDS, MPH, encouraged students, faculty and staff to seek counseling services in an online statement. To access a list of counseling services at UNC School of Dentistry or any dental school, visit ASDAnet.org/wellness/school-resources.
The American Student Dental Association is a national student-run organization that protects and advances the rights, interests and welfare of dental students. It introduces students to lifelong involvement in organized dentistry and provides services, information, education, representation and advocacy.