Home / World / Killing of Muslim teen in Virginia not being investigated as a hate crime, police say – Chicago Tribune

Killing of Muslim teen in Virginia not being investigated as a hate crime, police say – Chicago Tribune

The death of a Virginia teenager who police say was attacked near a mosque in the Sterling area is not being investigated as a hate crime, authorities said Monday.

On Sunday, police found the girl’s remains after the mosque had reporting her missing and a 22-year-old man has been charged with murder in connection with the case.

Relatives identified the girl as Nabra Hassanen of Reston. Prosecutors said Nabra was 16 years old, but police had initially said she was 17.

Fairfax County police identified the man charged with murder in her death as Darwin Martinez Torres of Sterling.

Police have not said that the slaying was a hate crime, but the issue was on the minds of many Muslims.

Last month, two men on a Portland train were stabbed and killed after they intervened to protect two girls who were being harassed, according to authorities.

Sunday night, a van struck a crowd of pedestrians, including worshipers leaving a pair of mosques in London. Witnesses said the pedestrians were struck as they departed late-night prayers.

The ADAMS Center has a paid armed security guard at the Sterling site, according to Iftikhar. He said many mosques have increased security since six Muslim worshipers were killed at a mosque in Quebec earlier this year.

Nabra’s slaying sent a chill through the community when news spread Sunday.

“People are petrified, especially people who have young Muslim daughters,” Iftikhar said.

Virginia officials condemned the killing Sunday night and expressed condolences to Nabra’s family.

Loudoun County Sheriff Michael L. Chapman said of the murder, “I can’t think of a worse instance to occur than the loss of a 17-year-old on Father’s Day, as the father of a 17-year-old myself.”

Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., said she visited ADAMS Sunday and met with leadership and law enforcement officials.

“We are heartbroken and horrified by the news of the brutal murder of a beautiful 17-year old girl,” Comstock said in a statement.

The night before, Gazzar – the victim’s mother – had cooked a feast for Nabra, the oldest of her four daughters, who wanted to host a big iftar break-the-fast dinner for all her friends from ADAMS and South Lakes High School, where she just finished 10th grade.

The iftar was packed – Nabra was always popular and sociable. And when it ended, a friend’s mom drove some of the teens to ADAMS for the midnight prayers that mark the last 10 days of Ramadan. Nabra wasn’t ordinarily religiously observant – she was more excited about fashion and makeup, including recently her nose ring – but she frequented the mosque during Ramadan, when it became a social hub for teens.

Gazzar said she thought Nabra and her friends would eat at the mosque after the prayers, and she would have forbidden her from walking to IHOP in the middle of the night. But she also wasn’t surprised that the girl went out; she and other teens had done it safely last year.

Other mothers in the apartment Sunday night echoed the same thought repeatedly – they and their children had always felt safe taking the sidewalk path to IHOP or McDonald’s for a fun meal on those final Ramadan nights.

Gazzar loaned her daughter an abaya to wear to the mosque Saturday night, since Nabra didn’t typically wear traditional Muslim clothes. She heard from a detective that when the man in the car started shouting at the teens, Nabra tripped over the long garment 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?”

Nabra was a diligent student, so much so that although she was extremely proud to get her first job ever at a McDonald’s, she quit when her manager didn’t understand that studying for a school exam took priority over a work shift.

All four Hassanen girls were born in the United States – the younger ones are 11, 10 and 3. Ali described Nabra as a “daddy’s girl” who was close with her father, a bus-and-limo driver. Her father spent Sunday at the mosque, Ali said, beside himself with worry all day.

Gazzar’s phone rang yet again, and this time she didn’t answer. She turned instead to the hundreds of photos stored on it, scrolling through them until she landed on one of Nabra visiting her parents’ homeland in Egypt, laughing as she embraced two of the teen’s little sisters.

“They’d all be laughing. They used to be really happy.”

She gazed into the girls’ eyes, and cried harder.

Sarah Pullman Bailey, Faiz Siddiqui and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

Source: world

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