Killing of Nabra Hassanen
|Killing of Nabra Hassanen|
|Location||Sterling, Virginia, United States|
June 18, 2017 |
3 a.m. – 4 a.m. (UTC−04:00)
|Darwin Martinez Torres|
On June 18, 2017, Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year-old American Muslim girl from Reston, Virginia, was assaulted and killed. The prime suspect for the murder is Darwin Martinez Torres, an illegal alien from El Salvador who was 22 at the time, and who may be a member of the criminal gang MS-13. Torres was indicted for Hassanen's murder by a grand jury on October 16, 2017. Police have classified the killing as an act of road rage, and not a hate crime.
Nabra Hassanen was a sophomore at South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia, where she would soon be starting her junior year in Fall 2017. On June 18, 2017 it was the holy month of Ramadan, and Hassanen was with 15 teenage friends near the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center Mosque. As soon as they got some food from a McDonald's nearby, Hassanen and her friends made their way back to the mosque between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m and came into "a dispute with a man driving a red car"; the man was later identified as Darwin Martinez Torres. Hassanen's group of friends scattered as the man drove onto a curb. He then followed them to a parking lot, got out of the car and chased them. When the man managed to reach Hassanen, he hit her with a baseball bat and put her in the car. As Hassanen's friends ran back to the mosque quickly, the man "drove off with her in his car", took her to a nearby location, and assaulted her again (details of the second assault were not revealed). After Hassanen died of "blunt force trauma to her upper body", the man dumped her in a pond near his home.
At 4 a.m. of the same day, Fairfax County police started searching for the girl, whose body was found floating in a pond around 3 p.m. The police then noticed a suspicious car in the vicinity and arrested the driver, Darwin Martinez Torres who was later charged with second-degree murder.
The day after the killing, the police stated on Twitter that "they are not investigating the attack as a hate crime". The County police spokeswoman said during a news conference that "it appears that the suspect became so enraged over this traffic argument that it escalated into deadly violence". Since the police believed the killing did not seem to be related by either race or religion, it was considered a road rage incident, rather than a hate crime-motivated offence. Fairfax County police chief Edwin Roessler Jr also told the media that they had "absolutely no evidence" showing the killing of Hassanen was caused by hate crime.
Police and prosecutors believe Hassanen was sexually assaulted by her abductor before she was killed.
Darwin Martinez Torres, aged 22, is an illegal immigrant to the United States from El Salvador who worked in construction. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had no previous encounters with Torres prior to Hassanen's killing.
Several days before Hassanen's murder, another woman told a representative of Loudoun County's Child Protective Services agency that Torres had punched, choked and sexually assaulted her; she also told the representative that Torres was a member of international criminal gang MS-13. However, the woman declined to press charges against Torres.
The ADAMS Center Mosque told the public in a statement that the community was devastated by the killing, saying "it is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth." On the Internet, some people expressed their outrage by criticizing the decision by police not to look into the killing as a hate crime. Isabella Burton of Vox wrote: "Hassanen has become another example of an innocent victim of Islamophobia."
Around 5,000 mourners attended Hassanen's funeral on June 21 and caused a traffic jam. While the majority of the attendees were Muslims, Christians and Jews were also seen. Hassanen's father, Mohmoud Hassanen Aboras, believed his daughter was killed because of her identity as a Muslim – when Hassanen was abducted, she was dressed in a Muslim robe known as abaya. Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman of the Council on American–Islamic Relations, said "there is a strong possibility the crime wouldn't have happened if the teenagers weren't Muslim". A lawyer with CAIR said "Muslim Americans are particularly fearful now."
On June 20, when citizens of Washington D.C. gathered at the city's park Dupont Circle commemorating Hassanen's death, a 24-year-old man attempted to set fire to a fountain where the memorial took place and was arrested for vandalism. A sergeant later said there was no permanent damage found on the fountain and the police were not sure why the man was around.
- Mallory, Stephanie; Hughes, Mallory (June 19, 2017). "Nabra Hassanen, Muslim teen, killed after leaving Virginia mosque". USA Today. USA Today. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
- Jackman, Tom; Jouvenal, Justin (June 27, 2017). "Suspect in killing of Muslim teen had been accused of a previous assault, report says". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
- Jouvenal, Justin. "Prosecutors to pursue death penalty against man accused of killing Nabra Hassanen". The Washington Postdate=October 16, 2017. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- "Police: Nabra Hassanen killed in 'road rage incident'". Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera. June 20, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
- Rankin, Sarah; Richer, Alanna Durkin (June 20, 2017). "Nabra Hassanen, Muslim Teen, Was Killed Leaving Mosque Because Of Road Rage: Police". Huffington Post Canada. Associated Press. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
- "Nabra Hassanen: spectre of hate crime hangs over teenager's funeral". The Guardian. Associated Press. June 21, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
- Sinclair, Harriet (June 20, 2017). "Who Is Darwin Martinez-Torres? Suspect in Murder of Muslim Teen Is Held by ICE". Newsweek. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
- Haag, Matthew (June 20, 2017). "Man Charged With Killing Muslim Teenager Entered United States Illegally, Authorities Say". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
- Tara Isabella Burton. "Nabra Hassanen's murder may not be a hate crime. It's still a tragedy for Muslim Americans". Vox. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
As a young woman, beloved by her community, Hassanen has become another example of an innocent victim of Islamophobia: a girl who, according to classmates, had "no enemies."
- Birchall, Guy (June 21, 2017). "Nabra Hassanen death – Outrage as death of Muslim girl 'abducted and beaten with a baseball bat on her way home from a mosque' is classified as 'road rage' by cops". The Sun. The Sun. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
- Barakat, Matthew (June 21, 2017). "Thousands Mourn Nabra Hassanen, the Virginia Teen Who Was Beaten to Death". The Time. Associated Press. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
- Shugerman, Emily (June 20, 2017). "Nabra Hassanen: Police investigating whether murdered Muslim teen was sexually assaulted". The Independent. The Independent. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
- Antonia Blumberg. "Police Call Teen's Beating Death 'Road Rage.' That Doesn't Sit Well With Muslim Americans". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
Gadeir Abbas, senior litigation attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Muslim Americans are particularly fearful now.
- Brennan, Christopher (June 21, 2017). "Man sets fire to memorial for slain Virginia teen Nabra Hassanen". New York Daily News. New York Daily News. Retrieved June 21, 2017.