Police in Fort Wayne, in the north-central U.S. state of Indiana, are asking for a community's help in solving the "execution-style" killings of two men and a teenager whose families are immigrants from Africa's Sahel region.
Officers found the bodies of 23-year-old Mohamedtaha Omar, 20-year-old Adam Kamel Mekki and 17-year-old Muhannad Adam Tairab last week in a home in the city of Fort Wayne. A coroner ruled their deaths homicides.
At least two of the dead were Muslims, and while authorities have not identified any motive in the case, they have said they do not believe the victims' nationality or religion were a factor in the murders.
Despite those statements, people took to social media to highlight the lack of attention the case has garnered in the days after the killings.
Using hashtags #OurThreeBoys and #OurThreeBrothers, Twitter users said the victims being black and Muslim explains a lack of outrage or media coverage. Some asked if that would be the case if the victims were white, or if the killer were Muslim.
I%27m disappointed in every single person that I know that hasn%27t said anything about #ourthreeboys. These were our brothers. Why stay silent?— Bond. James Bond. (@CallmeJumanjii) February 29, 2016
Since when did ones religion or race make their blood a cheaper price than another? #OurThreeBoys— مريم (@palestyria) February 28, 2016
Had they been the killers, this would%27ve been on every news outlet in the country. May your souls reside in paradise #OurThreeBoys— محمد منصور المخايطه (@McKeeta) February 29, 2016
If ppl r wondering why the media isn%27t reporting on #OurThreeBrothers, its because they haven%27t figured out how to paint them as thugs yet— M. H Arsalai (@ArsalaiH) February 28, 2016
Thousands of people have signed an online petition calling on Fort Wayne police to fully investigate the killings, saying they warrant a full probe.
"The current response from law enforcement – immediately being dismissive of the idea that this might be a hate crime and hinting at gang violence – is deeply troubling in a time of growing Islamophobia and mass criminalization of black youth," the petition says.
Police Chief Garry Hamilton said he has consulted with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in case investigators find a link to nationality or religion being a motive.
Local television station WANE quoted Abdelaziz Hassab, a relative of both Omar and Tairab, saying they "will be remembered as good kids."
"We all came here to find peace and security," Hassab said. "We're from the war zones, but the destiny waiting for us is real crazy."