wnol.info August 23 2017

Nabra Hassanen's memorial set on fire in Dupont Circle

August 23 2017, 10:59 | Irvin Gilbert

A SC man has been taken into custody in connection with setting fire to 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen's Washington, D.C., memorial in Dupont Circle.

(Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via AP).

He later found the group in a nearby parking lot, chased them on foot with a baseball bat and allegedly beat Hassanen.

Joshua Salaam, the ADAMS Center's chaplain, said Tuesday that the mosque has faith in the police investigation, but he said some people in the community are less concerned with legal definitions, and are having a more visceral reaction.

"We have people who may feel this is a hate crime, and we're dealing with that", he said. On Sunday afternoon, they located Hassanen's body in a pond in Loudoun County.

Fairfax County police said if they find any evidence the killing was a hate crime, they will pursue appropriate charges.

He said the slain teenager was "so loved by so many people".

After Torres's initial assault, he took Hassanen in his vehicle to a second location nearby in Loudoun County, according to police. Fairfax County will prosecute the case.

The night she died, she had just hosted a big group of friends for iftar - the Ramadan break-the-fast dinner - at her Reston apartment.

Muslim-American activists, however, believe that the murder was a hate crime, and part of an increasing trend of Islamophobia in U.S. society. Family members said she and other girls in her group were wearing hijabs, traditional headscarves worn by Muslim women, at the time of the attack.

In a sign of solidarity, Muslim groups held vigils across the country Tuesday to honor Hassanen.

Police say they are not investigating Nabra's death as a hate crime; however, Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond Morrogh has said he will continue to weigh the possibility before deciding how to proceed with the case.

Police are investigating the attack on Nabra as a road rage incident, claiming that the suspect, 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres, became angry at a teen in her group who was riding a bicycle and that an argument ensued and then soon after, escalated.

Some sources report Nabra's father, Mahmoud Hassanen, said he thinks his daughter was attacked for being Muslim.

Police said they are continuing to investigate, but so far they have found no evidence pointing to a hate crime by Darwin Martinez Torres, a 22-year-old from El Salvador suspected of being in the USA illegally. "She liked to help other people". Road rage was the alleged motive behind the slaying, police said. He was being held in Fairfax County after an initial court appearance Monday.

The public defender's office, which was appointed to represent Martinez Torres, declined to comment.

Abdou said the news of Hassanen's death shocked her. She says crisis support also will be available in the coming days.

Associated Press reporters Alanna Durkin Richer and Sarah Rankin contributed to this report from Richmond.

However, the girl's father Mohmoud Hassanen rejected the police's findings and said that he believes that his daughter was targeted because she was a Muslim.

For Saniya Salah, 74, who lives around the corner from the mosque that Hassanen left minutes before she was attacked and has granddaughters Hassanen's age, the attack has shaken her sense of security.

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