At slain Muslim teen's funeral, mourners say 'it could have been me'

Hundreds of people came to a funeral in Sterling, Virginia, this afternoon, for a 17-year-old girl who police say was killed this past weekend after she left her mosque.

Nabra Hassanen, 17, was bludgeoned with a baseball bat early Sunday by a motorist who drove up to about 15 Muslim teenagers as they walked or bicycled along a road, Fairfax County police said. They said he beat her with a baseball bat early Sunday, drove off with her in his auto, assaulted her again and then dumped her body in a pond near his home.

Martinez Torres is charged with murder and being held without bond, police said.

But we will all feel the loss of Nabra Hassanen, and a loss of sense of safety here, in weeks and years to come.

Joshua Salaam, a chaplain at the ADAMS Center, said police "have given us complete confidence" but the community is struggling because Hassanen was beloved by so many and known for her kind spirit.

Nabra's father told Anadolu Agency earlier this week he took pride in his daughter's hospitality, fondly remembering the diverse cross-section of people she would bring to their home. "Witnesses say [Martinez] Torres caught up with them a short time later in a nearby parking lot and got out of his vehicle armed with a baseball bat and began chasing the group".

"It's disgusting, the fact that this is being investigated as a road-rage incident as opposed to being a hate crime", said Baidan Ali, 20, of Annandale.

Nabra was walking with a group of friends back to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society- or ADAMS Center-after getting a bite at McDonald's. Torres then took her to another location in Loudoun County, according to police, where she was assaulted again.

Friends said Hassanen was always there for them and befriended everyone she met, The Washington Post reports.

She said she has told her own teenage daughter not to attend late-night Ramadan prayers and services with friends, so she won't be a target.

Most who attended Wednesday's vigil said they believe their faith teaches them that there is a better way to fight violence. Fairfax County will prosecute the case.

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.

"We keep hating each other for religion, color or like that", he said.

"Because she is a Muslim", Mahmoud Hassanen said. Police have not identified Hassanen, but her father confirmed she was the victim in Sunday's attack.

Chief Roessler and Imam Magid will be at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston to speak with the community before a public vigil at 6:30pm local time.

Magid noted the diversity of the crowd and expressed gratitude "to see we are part of the larger community to stand against bigotry, stand against hate". A funeral for Hassanen was held on June 21. He was being held in Fairfax County after an initial court appearance Monday.

  • Leroy Wright