The Fairfax County Police Department(STERLING, Va.) — Virginia police believe a road rage incident led to the death of the 17-year-old Muslim girl whose body was found near a mosque, officials said in a press conference Monday evening.
The body found in a Virginia pond Sunday has been identified as 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen of Reston, Virginia, officials confirmed Monday. Hassanen went missing earlier in the day Sunday after she and her friends left a mosque, according to police.
Fairfax County police confirmed Monday that they are not investigating the case as a hate crime.
“Based on the information our detectives have at this point, there is no indication that this was a hate-bias motivated-related crime,” police said. “If that changes as the investigation progresses, we would certainly pursue that aspect.”
Julie Parker, director of media relations for Fairfax County police, said in Monday’s press conference that the incident started early Sunday around 3:40 a.m. local time when a group of about 15 teens were walking in Fairfax County to get some food after participating at an overnight event at the ADAMS center (All Dulles Area Muslim Society). Parker said detectives believe the suspect drove up to the teens when a male teen on a bike started arguing with him.
The suspect, who has been identified as Darwin Martinez Torres, then drove up on a curb and the group of teens ran, said Parker. She added that detectives believe Torrres became enraged from the argument when he got out of his car and began chasing the group with a bat. He caught Hassanen and hit her with the bat before taking her in his car to a second unidentified location in Loudon County, said Parker.
Hassanen, whose body was found in a pond around 3 p.m. Sunday in Sterling, Virginia, died from blunt force trauma to the upper body, Parker said.
Fairfax County police arrested Torres, 22, of Sterling around 5:15 a.m. and charged him with murder in connection with the case. Torres was arraigned Monday morning and held without bail, according to an official at the Fairfax County courthouse. It is unclear if he entered a plea and it was not immediately made clear whether he had obtained an attorney.
UPDATE: Suspect in Herndon missing teen investigation taken to jail. Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, has been charged with murder. pic.twitter.com/JGBxXmdqUf
— Fairfax Co. Police (@fairfaxpolice) June 18, 2017
Police said they looked into whether the killing was a hate crime, but said they found no indication “that this was a bias incident.” Officials do believe Torres acted alone, and are not looking to arrest any other suspects.
ICE said in a statement Monday that they have filed a detainer on Torres, a citizen of El Salvador, for potential deportation as he is believed to be in the U.S. illegally.
The ADAMS center in Sterling, where the teens are believed to have been attending an overnight event, released a statement in regards to Hassanen’s death.
“We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event,” the center said in a statement. “It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth.”
The center said it would have licensed counselors on site Monday to help the community cope with the loss.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring urged the public to show “love and support” for the ADAMS center and the Muslim community.
The unspeakable murder in Sterling feels like an assault on our entire community. Love and respect must overcome hate.
— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) June 19, 2017
“The unspeakable murder in Sterling feels like an assault on our entire community. Love and respect must overcome hate,” Herring said in a tweet Sunday. “This breaks my heart. @ADAMSCenter_ has always welcomed me like family. Let’s surround community w/ love & support.”
Parker said the investigation of the case is ongoing and said the case may be prosecuted in Loudon County instead of Fairfax County because of elements of the crime and where they occurred.
Deputy Chief Tom Ryan expressed his condolences to the 17-year-old’s family and reiterated Fairfax County’s support for the Muslim community during Monday’s press conference.
“I can assure you that while justice will not bring Nabrah Hassanen back justice, will be done,” said Ryan.
A community vigil will be held on Wednesday, June 21 by the South Lake Muslim Students Association in honor of Hassanen’s death.
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