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The brutal kidnapping and murder of a teen Muslim girl in Virginia is not being investigated as a hate crime, according to local officials. Authorities have arrested a suspect in the case, however.
Nabra Hassanen, 17, and several of her friends were walking from their local mosque to a nearby IHOP in Sterling early Sunday morning, when a man jumped out of a car and started swinging at the group with a baseball bat, according to BuzzFeed News. The group scattered and fled back to the mosque, but Hassanen was left behind and police believe she was assaulted. The group immediately notified authorities, which ended in the discovery of what is believed to be Hassanen’s remains in a pond Sunday afternoon.
Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, has been charged with Hassanen’s murder. He was seen driving suspiciously around the area where her body was recovered. Officials, however, have not released any explanation as to why the murder is not being investigated as a hate crime.
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
Members of the mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), are rattled by the death of one of their own during the sacred month of Ramadan.
“We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event,” ADAMS Chairman Rizwan Jaka said in a statement.
Last month, two men were killed and another was injured on a Portland train after defending two Muslim girls who were being harassed, and Sunday night a van struck a crowd of pedestrians leaving a pair of mosques in London. These and other incidents weigh on the minds of those mourning the death of Hassanen as the investigation continues but isn’t being categorized as a hate crime.
Hassanen’s mother, Sawsan Gazzar, told the Washington Post her daughter was not ordinarily religiously observant, but that she frequented the mosque during Ramadan. Gazzar loaned her daughter an abaya—a full-length dress common among Muslim women—as she usually did not dress in traditional Muslim attire.
A detective told Gazzar that when Torres started shouting at the teens, Hassanen tripped over the long dress and fell to the ground just before she was struck.
“I think it had to do with the way she was dressed and the fact that she’s Muslim,” Gazzar said. “Why would you kill a kid? What did my daughter do to deserve this?”
H/T the Washington Post
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.