Virginia police explain lack of hate crime probe

Virginia police explain lack of hate crime probe”

The driver, 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres, was taken into custody and charged with murder.

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

Police told The Washington Post that they had "collected several articles of evidence" reportedly incriminating Martinez Torres.

He loaded Hassanen into his auto and dumped her in a pond in neighbouring Loudoun County, Parker said. He later found the group in a nearby parking, chased them on foot with a baseball bat and allegedly beat Nabra.

He put the injured teen in his auto, officials said. Her autopsy revealed she had blunt force trauma on her upper body.

While the investigation remains in its early stages and things could change, detectives have so far found no indication of a link "between the victim's faith or religious beliefs or the mosque and the crime itself", Fairfax County Police Spokesman Don Gotthardt told The Associated Press.

"This tragic case appears to be the result of a road rage incident involving the suspect, who was driving and who is now charged with murder, and a group of teenagers who was walking and riding bikes in and along a roadway", a police statement said.

Torres, who has a four-year-old son, is now being held in the county jail without bond. It wasn't immediately clear whether he had an attorney.

Authorities said they believe Torres acted alone.

According to the friends who were with Hassanen at the time of the assault, Torres encountered the teens in his auto as they were walking home from a Sterling, VA IHOP where they had stopped to eat after celebrating Ramadan at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS).

The 17-year-old girl was assaulted before dawn on Sunday in Sterling, Virginia, about 30 miles (50 km) west of Washington, after attending overnight prayers for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when many Muslims fast from dawn until sunset.

She did not say who initiated the altercation, but said that police were looking into what the sparked the dispute between the suspect and the teens.

Nabra's death has shaken the local Muslim community.

On Monday, her friends gathered outside her Reston apartment with flowers. They say she was praying at the ADAMS (All Dulles Area Muslim Society) center and left with a friends to get food when the incident happened. "Our investigation at this point does not indicate the victim was targeted because of her race or religion".

Aboras, the victim's father, said he's not particularly interested in knowing why his daughter was attacked or whether it could be considered a hate crime. "It's racism. Getting killed because she's Muslim". But she also wasn't surprised that the girl went out; she and other teens had done it safely previous year.

"I teach my kids how to love other people", he said crying, wiping tears from his eyes. "We would go to the playground in our neighborhood and talk and talk for hours", she said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, urged police to "conduct a thorough investigation" into the Virginia killing. "Even if not, why is this individual targeting a group of people dressed in Muslim attire?"

"There is absolutely no place for this kind of violence in our Commonwealth", Northam said in a statement.

"We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event", Rizwan Jaka, chairman of ADAMS, said in a statement.

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