Virginia police probe Muslim girl's
killing as 'road rage' incident
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[June 20, 2017]
By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A teenage Muslim
girl killed by a bat-wielding motorist near a Virginia mosque was an
apparent victim of "road rage" and her death is not being investigated
as a hate crime, police said on Monday.
Nabra Hassanen, 17, was attacked early on Sunday in Sterling, Virginia,
about 30 miles (50 km) west of Washington, after attending late-night
prayers for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when many Muslims fast
from dawn until sunset.
Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, has been arrested and charged
with murder in the incident that began with a road dispute with a boy on
a bicycle who was among a group of teenagers that included Hassanen,
Fairfax County police spokeswoman Julie Parker said.
"It appears that the suspect became so enraged over this traffic
argument that it escalated into deadly violence," she told a news
Parker said there was no indication the attack near the All Dulles Area
Muslim Society mosque was motivated by race or religion. Police said
there was no sign that Martinez used racial slurs during the attack.
Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors,
expressed solidarity with the Muslim center and said a prayer vigil
would held on Wednesday at a high school.
"With regard to this case, I am confident justice will be served," she
said at the news conference.
The attack took place about 3:40 a.m. as up to 15 teenagers who had
attended prayer services at the mosque were returning from a fast-food
restaurant, Parker said.
Some of the teenagers were in the road and Martinez began arguing with
the boy on a bicycle as he was driving in his car, Parker said.
Martinez chased the youths into a parking lot, emerged from his car with
a baseball bat, and struck Hassanen, she said.
[to top of second column]
Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, Virginia, charged with
murder of a 17-year-old American Muslim girl is shown in this
Fairfax County Police Dept. photo released in Fairfax, Virginia,
U.S., June 19, 2017. Courtesy Fairfax County Police Dept./Handout
He loaded Hassanen into his car and dumped her in a pond in
neighboring Loudoun County, Parker said. A search team recovered the
body on Sunday, and an autopsy showed she had suffered blunt force
trauma to the upper body, she added.
The Washington Post reported that Hassanen and her friends were
dressed in abayas, the robe-like dress worn by some Muslim women,
prompting fears the victim was targeted because she was Muslim.
Police arrested Martinez about 90 minutes after the assault and a
judge ordered that he remain jailed without bail, officials said. He
has been assigned a public defender.
(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen and Peter Szekely in New
York; Editing by Tom Brown and Peter Cooney)
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