The killing of a Muslim teenager in Virginia whose body was found in a pond on Sunday was most likely a “road rage incident” and not a hate crime, the Fairfax County Police Department said on Monday night.
The teenager, Nabra Hassanen, 17, was killed on Sunday after she and a group of friends encountered a driver, Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, about 3:40 a.m., the police said in a statement. The group had been at a late-night event at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling, Va., and were headed back to the mosque after a trip to a fast-food restaurant.
The police said the group of as many as 15 teenagers were walking and riding their bikes — some in the street and some on the sidewalk — when Mr. Torres came upon them in his car.
An argument erupted between him and one of the teenagers, a boy on a bicycle, and he drove his car onto the curb in a fit of anger, the police said. The statement did not say what the argument was about. The teenagers ran from Mr. Torres, but he soon found them in a parking lot and got out of his car wielding a baseball bat and began to chase them, the police said.
“Torres was able to catch Nabra,” the police said in a statement posted online. “His anger over the encounter led to violence when he hit Nabra with a baseball bat.”
After he attacked Ms. Hassanen, Mr. Torres took her in his car to a nearby location in Loudoun County, the police said. Her body was found about 11 hours later in a nearby man-made pond. Autopsy results showed that she had sustained blunt force trauma to the upper body, the police said, though they did not specify her cause of death.
Mr. Torres was arrested at 5:15 a.m. on Sunday. A police spokeswoman, Officer Tawny Wright, said on Monday that he had lingered in the search area in his car, drawing the attention of an officer who stopped him for a vehicle violation and detained him for questioning. He was charged with murder after the discovery of Ms. Hassanen’s body, the police said.
Raymond F. Morrogh, the commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County who is prosecuting the case, said Mr. Torres was arraigned on Monday and was jailed without bond. Mr. Torres was assigned a public defender but indicated his aunt might retain a private lawyer, Mr. Morrogh said.
Hate crime charges could still be filed as the investigation progresses, he said earlier on Monday, adding, “I wouldn’t rule it out until I see all of the evidence.”
Regardless of the motive, the killing reverberated throughout the Muslim community and beyond. As word of the girl’s death spread, people expressed their grief on social media.