Muslim Teen Killed After Getting Late-Night Snack with Friends in Quiet D.C. Suburb
FAIRFAX, Va. -- Police arrested and charged with murder a man suspected of seizing a Muslim teenager off the street in a quiet neighborhood as she was walking with her friends after grabbing a late-night Ramadan snack.
Nabra Hassanen, 17, of Reston had walked from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling, Va., to the IHOP on Leesburg Pike. The group of four or five girls was walking back along Dranesville Road around 3 a.m. when a man drove up to them and confronted the teens. They all began to run, and realized after reaching the mosque that Nabra was not with them.
Fairfax County Police said they and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office "immediately began an extensive search."
"The police helicopter, K-9 teams and search and rescue teams also responded to search for the missing teen, whom officers believed to be injured. While searching, one officer saw a car driving suspiciously in the area and stopped it," police said in a press release. The driver of that car, Darwin A. Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, Va., was arrested and later charged with murder.
Around 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nabra's body was found in a pond in the 21500 block of Ridgetop Circle in Sterling, an area of office buildings near Dulles Town Center. Torres reportedly lives in an apartment complex on the other side of the pond.
Fairfax County Police tweeted this morning, "We are NOT investigating this murder as a hate crime." They did not elaborate.
Loudoun County police have charged a 22 year-old man with the murder of Nabra Hassanen a teenager coming home from a Ramadan prayer service. pic.twitter.com/Gxr88Tkk4e
— DC Maryland Virginia (@DMVFollowers) June 19, 2017
The Washington Post reported that Nabra's mother, Sawsan Gazzar, said police told her that her daughter had been struck with a metal baseball bat. The girl wasn't normally religiously observant but borrowed an abaya from her mother to go to the iftar service after breaking the Ramadan fast as it's a social time for teens at the mosque. As the other girls in the group were able to run from the man, Nabra tripped over the long abaya and fell; detectives told the mother she was then struck with the bat.
“I think it had to do with the way she was dressed and the fact that she’s Muslim,” Gazzar told the paper. “Why would you kill a kid? What did my daughter do to deserve this?”
The ADAMS Center said it would continue with nightly Ramadan prayers and offer grief counselors for members. "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 mosque said in a statement. "...We thank both Fairfax County Police and Loudoun County Sheriff’s departments for their diligent efforts in investigating and apprehending a suspect. We call on law enforcement to investigate and determine the motive of this crime and prosecute to the full extent of the law."