FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Police blamed “road rage” on Monday for the killing of a teenage Muslim girl who was attacked by a driver while walking with friends to her mosque between Ramadan prayers this weekend.
The girl’s father, Mohmoud Hassanen Aboras of Reston said he doesn’t understand how this could have happened, because he said his daughter, 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen, was a friend to everyone.
Police charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres with murder.
“This tragic case 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,” a Fairfax Police Department statement said.
“Our investigation at this point in no way indicates the victim was targeted because of her race or religion,” police added.
Police have not identified Hassanen, but her father confirmed she was the victim in Sunday’s attack. An autopsy was being conducted on a body pulled from a pond in Loudon County that detectives believe to be that of the 17-year-old Reston girl who disappeared on Sunday, police said.
Martinez Torres of Sterling was arraigned Monday in Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and ordered held without bail pending a July 19 court appearance.
Fairfax County Police Spokesman Don Gotthardt told The Associated Press that while the investigation remains in its early stages and things could change, detectives have so far found no indication of a link “between the victim’s faith or religious beliefs or the mosque and the crime itself.”
According to statements from police and the mosque, the girl and her friends were walking back to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque from a McDonald’s in the Sterling area between 3 and 4 a.m. Sunday when a man drove up and some kind of altercation ensued.
WRC-TV in Washington reported that when the man got out of his car, the girls ran away and didn’t realize until later that the victim wasn’t with them.
During an intense search for the missing girl, an officer stopped a car being driven suspiciously on Sunday and the driver, later identified as Martinez Torres was taken into custody, police said.
WRC-TV reported that Martinez Torres was questioned near the scene of the attack, and led officers several miles away to a retention pond across the street from his apartment complex where a female body, believed to be the girl’s, was found at about 3 p.m. Sunday.
“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.
ADAMS is one of the largest mosques in the country, and is particularly busy during Ramadan. Observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, and since Ramadan this year overlaps with the summer solstice, and sunrise occurs well before 6 a.m., some Muslims will eat large meals in predawn hours.
“We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event,” the society said in the news release. “It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth.” It said the society was enlisting licensed counselors to assist anyone in need.
A statement by Madihha Ahussain, special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry at Muslim Advocates, a national legal and educational organization for American Muslims, said the tragedy occurring on Father’s Day and during the holy month of Ramadan, “strikes the heart of the strong community of the ADAMS Center and of Fairfax.”
“We urge both local and federal authorities to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation into all possible motives for this gruesome crime,” Ahussain said.