Police in Fairfax County, VA, have confirmed that the abduction and murder of a Muslim teenager who was walking to her local mosque on Sunday is not being investigated as a hate crime.
Nabra Hassanen, 17, was walking to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society with a group of friends following breakfast at a nearby IHOP restaurant, when they allegedly got into an altercation with Darwin A. Martinez Torres, a 22-year-old motorist.
Speaking with BuzzFeed News, Yufra Abdelmuid, a friend of the Hassanen’s family, said that Torres “was at the McDonald’s eating at the same time and he followed them in his car.”
“He threw a beer bottle at them and they started running to the Bowl America parking lot nearby,” Abdelmuid said. “He got out of his car with a bat and hit her over the head.”
While Hassanen’s friends fled to the mosque, she was left behind with Torres. According to NPR, the group reported her missing at 4 AM that morning. Police later arrested Torres, who had been detained after an officer found him driving suspiciously. Police then found female remains in an area pond that afternoon.
While Hassanen’s mother Sawsan Gazzar said she was not “ordinarily religiously observant,” she believes her daughter was killed for having worn a traditional abaya cloak she’d borrowed to attend Ramadan services at the ADAMS.
“I think it had to do with the way she was dressed and the fact that she’s Muslim,” Gazzar told the Washington Post. “Why would you kill a kid? What did my daughter do to deserve this?”
However, on Monday morning, Fairfax police tweeted that they were not investigating the killing as a hate crime, instead describing it as an incident of road rage.
Despite the Fairfax Police’s tweet, a department spokesman offered a slightly different perspective of the investigation, telling BuzzFeed that while the police do not currently have proof of a” correlation between the victim’s faith and the crime itself” they are open to investigating any “future possible connection to her religion.”
In a brief statement posted to their website, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society wrote: “We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event. It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth.”