Herndon, VA - The murder of a 17-year-old Muslim girl, Nabra Hassanen, by foreign national, Darwin Martinez Torres, on Sunday, does not appear to be a hate crime, according to The Washington Post. This announcement has prompted outrage and confusion over how it's possible to murder a Muslim teen without her religion being the motive.
The incident began after a group of four or five teens left a Sterling mosque after midnight on Sunday. Police Officer Tawny Wright said that they walked to breakfast at McDonald's, and were walking back to the mosque when the encounter occurred.
The group was walking back to the mosque for an all-night prayer session when they were confronted by a suspect, later identified as Darwin Martinez Torres, age 22, of Sterling. During the confrontation, the girls ran back to the mosque, and then discovered that Nabra had been left behind, according to The New York Times.
Officials from the mosque reported the missing girl to police when she couldn't be found.
Loudon County and Fairfax County police began an extensive, hours-long search of the area.
Nabra's body was found in a pond about 3 PM in the 21500 block of Ridgetop Circle in Sterling. An officer noticed a suspicious car that kept circling the area during the search, and stopped the car for a traffic violation.
Darwin Martinez Torres was the driver, and he was initially detained for questioning before being arrested. Police said that several items of evidence was found in his vehicle but did not provide further details.
On Monday, Officer Wright said that there was no evidence that 'the assault was based on the girl's race or religion', and that there was some type of 'heated exchange' between Martinez Torres and Nabra before he got out of his car and allegedly beat her to death with a metal baseball bat.
Nabra's mother, Sawsan Gazzar, said that her daughter was "scared very easily." They lived in a quiet Muslim community, where neighbors described Nabra as "unusually respectful."
Her mother said she believed this was a hate crime. She said, “I’m sure the guy hit my daughter because she’s Muslim and she was wearing the hijab...why did he do that to us?...He doesn’t know us..."
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrough said Darwin Martinez Torres was arraigned on Monday, and remains in jail under no bond. He said that hate crime charges could still be filed, and said, “I wouldn’t rule it out until I see all of the evidence.”
Loudon County Sheriff Michael L. Chapman said, “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.”
Darwin Martinez Torres's Facebook page states that he is from Honduras, but the Washington Post reports that he is from El Salvador. None of the news agencies which are generating outrage over the lack of hate crime charges have asked if Torres was in the country legally.
Darwin Martinez Torres's immigration status has not been released at this time.
UPDATE: ICE has placed a detainer on Darwin Martinez Torres, who is in the country illegally, according to Julie Carey with NBC.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Nabra Hassanen.