Muslim girl's death in Virginia may be hate crime, say police

A teenage Muslim girl killed near a Virginia mosque was an apparent victim of "road rage" and her death is not being investigated as a hate crime, police said on Monday.

WASHINGTON • A 17-year-old American Muslim girl was beaten and then abducted after leaving a mosque in Virginia by a man who police later arrested on suspicion of murder after her body was found dumped in a pond.

The authorities had not ruled out hate as a motivation for the attack on Sunday.

The attack spurred an outpouring of grief and horror in a Muslim community that has been gathering to pray at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque outside Washington in observance of the last 10 days of Ramadan.

The attack happened after the victim and several friends walking outside the mosque got into a dispute with a motorist in the community of Sterling, the police said in a statement. At one point, the motorist got out of his car and assaulted the girl, said the police.

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The teen was reported missing by her friends, who had scattered during the attack and could not find her afterwards, touching off a search.

At around 3pm, the remains of a female believed to be the teen victim were found in a pond, said the police.

During the search, the authorities stopped a motorist "driving suspiciously in the area" and arrested the driver, later identified as 22-year- old Darwin Martinez Torres.

The police obtained a murder warrant that charges him for the girl's death.

A police spokesman told reporters that the attack followed some sort of dispute between the man and the girls, and the authorities had not ruled out hate as a motivation for the attack.

The number of anti-Muslim bias incidents in the United States jumped 57 per cent last year to 2,213, from 1,409 in 2015, the Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group said in a report last month.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2017, with the headline 'Muslim girl's death in Virginia may be hate crime, say police'. Print Edition | Subscribe