A 17-year-old Muslim girl is dead and a man has been arrested and charged with murder after she was assaulted while walking back to her mosque on Sunday in Herndon, police and family members say.
In a press conference on Monday evening, Fairfax Co. Police said they do not believe the murder of Nabra Hassanen of Reston was a hate crime.
Police say their investigation "in no way indicates the victim was targeted because of her race or religion."
If watching in our app, click here.
Nabra Mohmod Hassanen had been praying for Ramadan at the ADAMS (All Dulles Area Muslim Society) center. She then decided to walk with a group of friends, some of whom police say were on bikes, to get something to eat before their religious fast. Sadly, Hassanen never returned.
Hassanen's body was found in a pond in Loudoun County on Sunday evening.
Police say the group had a dispute with a driver that appears to be the "result of a road rage incident involving the suspect" while the teens were walking back to the mosque and Hassanen was assaulted. Fairfax County Police and the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office started searching for the missing teen as early as 4 a.m.
“What investigators told the father and the mother, he hit her in the head and put her in the car and he threw her in the water,” said family friend and spokesperson Abas Sherif.
Shortly after the incident, police in the area noticed a car driving suspiciously and began a traffic stop on Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling. He was taken into custody as a suspect, and later charged with murder.
On Monday, Council on American-Islamic Relations National Executive Director Nihad Awad released the following statement:
“There are no words to describe the devastation and anguish felt by the family and by all members of the community as a result of this senseless tragedy. CAIR, its board and staff offer sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Nabra Hassanen in their time of grief. To God we belong and to Him we return. As we grieve for Nabra’s loss, we also urge law enforcement authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of a possible bias motive in this case, coming as it does at a time of rising Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate attacks nationwide.”
When word spread, sadness and grief gripped those who knew Hassanen.
“The father is very desperate the mother as well all the community desperate and disappointed,” said Sherif.
Hassanen was a sophomore at South Lakes High School in Reston.
“I thought it was really shocking. To be perfectly honest I wasn’t really expecting it and it was all over Snapchat. And I was just really shocked. My mom told me about it last night and I was like ‘whoa,’” a student said.
“At first people were just like, oh this girl is missing if you see her like let us know. Then people were like oh my God, like she’s dead and people started freaking out. But like the whole Sophomore class kind of came together and like we all agreed to wear black today to honor her,” another student said.
"We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event," ADAMS representatives said in a statement. "It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth. ADAMS has licensed counselors on site to assist anyone in need of counseling during these difficult times."
Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia released the following statement on the girl's death:
"We are heartbroken and horrified by the news of the brutal murder of a beautiful 17-year old girl. We know there is no greater pain for any parent and Chip and I extend our prayers to her family and loved ones at this difficult time and the entire ADAMS Center community. We commend the Fairfax County Police Department and the Loudoun County Sheriff's office for their diligent work in apprehending the perpetrator. This case should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
This story has been updated.