Murder of Black Student by 'Alt-Reich' Suspect Highlights 'Dangerous Rising Tide,' Says Congressman
WASHINGTON -- A Maryland congressman said on the House floor today that the murder of a newly commissioned Army lieutenant by a man who belonged to a white supremacist Facebook group "exposes a dangerous rising tide."
Richard Collins III, a Bowie State University student who was supposed to graduate this week, was visiting friends at the University of Maryland and waiting for an Uber with some of his pals at a bus stop at about 3 a.m. Saturday. A man approached the group and started shouting at Collins, University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell said.
"He said to the victim, 'Step left, step left if you know what's good for you,'" Mitchell said, citing witnesses at the scene. "The victim looked at him puzzled with the other friends of his and said 'No,'. It was then that (the suspect) stabbed the victim in his chest."
Sean Christopher Urbanski, 22, a University of Maryland student, was arrested near the scene of the crime and charged with first- and second-degree murder and first-degree assault.
Mitchell said Urbanski belonged to an "Alt-Reich Nation" Facebook group that posted "extreme bias against women, Latinos, members of the Jewish faith and especially African-Americans, which brings up questions as to the motive of this case." Federal officials are investigating whether the murder was a hate crime.
The Anne Arundel County Police Department said in a statement Tuesday that it was "made aware of an inappropriate Facebook post" about Collins' murder "made by Welby Burgone, a former police academy recruit who is currently assigned as a civilian employee in our Communications Section."
"Within hours of being made aware of the comment, the Professional Standards Unit began an investigation which resulted in the suspension of Mr. Burgone," the statement added, noting that the post "was extremely insensitive and appeared to be racially motivated."
According to the Baltimore Sun, the police employee was a high school classmate of Urbanski's and was responding on Facebook to another classmate. "F--- yeah Sean!!!!!" the other man wrote in praise of Urbanski. "That's what happens when n----- try and get frosty with an OG! Talk s---, get stabbed lol." Burgone replied with an image of a crab holding a knife and the words, "You mess with crabo You get stabo."
Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare called Burgone's actions "a betrayal of the values" of the department, adding that "any employee who espouses or supports hateful or racist ideology will be held accountable."
The congressman who represents the district in which the murder occurred, Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), an Army veteran who served for nearly three decades, saluted a large photo of Collins placed on an easel on the House floor, where he called for action against this "heinous, despicable and unprovoked crime of hate" and racist ideology.