Nabra Hassanen was kidnapped and killed on Sunday, June 18 in Sterling, Virginia. Police are now saying the teen's murder was the result of road rage.
Early Sunday morning, a 17-year old Muslim teen, Nabra Hassanen, was walking with a group of friends to her local mosque. They had left the mosque to get some breakfast before their Ramadan fast. The group of girls was walking on Dranesville Road toward the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, Virginia, when around 3:30 a.m., a vehicle approached them.
Reports say that a man exited the vehicle, an altercation of some kind occurred, and the man began swinging a baseball bat at them. The group dispersed and fled the scene, later regrouping at the ADAMS center. It was not until they had regrouped at the ADAMS Center that they realized Nabra had been left behind. With the help of members of the ADAMS center, both Fairfax County Police and Loudoun County Sheriff's Office were notified.
Around 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, after an extensive search including helicopters and K-9 search teams, police found what they believe is Nabra Hassanen's body in a pond in the 21500 block of Ridgetop Circle in Sterling. Police allegedly found
a baseball bat near the scene. Fairfax County Police said in a statement late Sunday evening,
The Office of The Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to confirm the identity of the remains and determine the exact cause and manner of death; however, detectives do believe the remains are those of our missing teen."
During the search for Hassanen, a police officer noticed a vehicle driving suspiciously near the search parties. When stopped, he took in the driver, now identified as Martinez Torres, as a suspect. Martinez is now being charged with her murder and has been taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents because he was an undocumented immigrant.
[caption id="attachment_2009" align="aligncenter" width="813"]
The suspect, Torres, has visible bruising and marks on his face.[/caption]
Fairfax County police have stated that the incident will not be investigated as a hate crime, although Nabra’s mother, Sawsan Gazzar, told Washington Post
, "I think it had to do with the way she was dressed and the fact that she’s Muslim." Also, when Buzzfeed News contacted Fairfax County
police for a statement, police spokesperson Don Gotthardt said that the nature of the investigation wasn't "as definitive" as the tweet made it out to be. Buzzfeed writer Brianna Sacks wrote, "Gotthardt said that their tweet could have been 'crafted a little better' and could have left some 'wiggle room' about the nature of the investigation."
The Chief Medical Examiner is conducting the autopsy today, Monday, June 19, to verify the victim's identity and to identify a cause of death. In the most recent update, Police said the tragic incident...
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. Our investigation at this point in no way indicates the victim was targeted because of her race or religion."
The ADAMS center released a statement on their Facebook page
, "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." The statement continued,
ADAMS has licensed counselors on site to assist anyone in need of counseling during these difficult times. We would also like to thank our community, government officials and interfaith partners for their prayers and support during these tough times. For further questions, we ask that you please contact the Fairfax County Police Media Relations Bureau, 703-246-2253. Due to the nature of the ongoing investigation we have been advised not to discuss this matter further."
A LaunchGood campaign
was created to help support Nabra Hassanen's family during this time. The campaign has raised over $170,000 in the past 24 hours.