Fairfax County Police announced they will be investigating the murder of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen as a road rage incident, not a hate crime.
As Crime Online previously reported, Nabra was walking with a group of friends back to a mosque on Sunday after a predawn breakfast during the holy month of Ramadan, when observers fast from sunrise to sunset.
A man in a car reportedly confronted the group and got into an argument with one of the teens, a male in the group. After the suspect furnished a bat, the teens scattered and ran off, but Nabra was kidnapped and killed.
“Nothing indicates that this was motivated by race or by religion. It appears the suspect became so enraged over this traffic argument that it escalated into deadly violence,” Fairfax County Police Spokeswoman Julie Parker told ABC News.
Police arrested Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, on Sunday after seeing him driving near the Sterling, Virginia, pond where Nabra’s body was found Sunday afternoon. According to CNN, a police officer recognized the car as fitting the description of the vehicle in the road rage attack.
Martinez Torres has not been charged, but is being held without bail. Immigration officials have reportedly asked Fairfax County to keep the suspect in custody on an immigration hold, as the El Salvador native may be in the country illegally.
Specifics of the encounter leading up to Nabra’s beating death are still emerging. CNN reports there were two separate confrontations, close together, between the suspect and the group of teens. Martinez Torres first drove up to the edge of the sidewalk where the teens were walking, some with bikes, and got into a verbal argument with a male member of the group.
In a message on Twitter, the Fairfax County police said that suspect was angry about a bike that was in the road, but it is unclear what the argument was about. The suspect then reportedly drove his car up onto the curb as the teens ran off. He caught up to them in a nearby parking lot, where he reportedly brandished a metal bat, chasing them on foot. While the rest of the group was able to escape, the suspect allegedly hit Nabra with the bat and took her into his car.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Northern Virginia told CNN that Nabra died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.
Nabra’s grieving father, Mahmoud Hassanen, told CNN he does not believe his daughter died only because of road rage.
“This is a hate crime,” he said. “It’s racism. Getting killed because she’s Muslim.”
Nabra’s father also expressed sympathy to the suspect killer.
“I feel sorry for the guy who take my daughter’s life,” Hassanen said. “Why? We have to help each other, Muslim, Christian, Jew.”
Feature photo: Facebook