Fairfax County Police Department and Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office officials have confirmed that the remains found in a retaining pond off of Ridgetop Circle in Sterling are that of 17 year-old Nabra Hassanen of Reston.
Her death was a result of a road rage incident, not a hate crime, Fairfax County Police Media Relations Bureau Director Julie Parker said. Should information arise to suggest Hassanen was targeted because of her race or religion, detectives will draw up appropriate charges, she said.
After speaking with numerous witnesses, Fairfax and Loudoun detectives determined that Hassanen was one of 15 to 20 teenagers who left the Sterling All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) mosque early June 18 to get food after a Ramadan prayer service.
Around 3:40 a.m. the group was returning to the mosque from a nearby McDonalds. They were walking and riding bikes on Dranesville Road, some on the sidewalk and others were on the road. Detectives believe Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, came upon the teens while he was driving. The investigation revealed a teenaged boy on a bike began arguing with Torres, Parker said.
Torres then drove his car onto the curb as the group scattered. Witnesses said Torres caught up with the group a short time later in a nearby parking lot and got out of his car armed with a baseball bat and began chasing the group. Torres was able to catch Hassanen and hit her with the bat. Torres then took Nabra with him in his car to a second location nearby in Loudoun County, where he assaulted her again. She died of blunt force trauma, Parker said.
Hassanen’s friends called the police from within ADAMS around 4 a.m. When law enforcement searched the area of Dranesville Road between the Route 7 shopping center and Sugarland Road on the Fairfax/Loudoun County border, a FCPD patrol officer saw Torres’ car. Torres was arrested at 5:15 a.m. June 18 and charged with assault and murder. He is being held in Fairfax County without bond.
“I can assure you that while justice cannot bring Nabra Hassanen back, justice will be done,” FCPD Deputy Chief Tom Ryan said. “I say to our Muslim community and to our Fairfax community as a whole, that the Fairfax County Police Department is committed to your safety and when crimes such as this occur, our officers and detectives take it personally.”
Torres acted alone and there was no one else in the car with him and Hassanen. Because the two assaults happened in different counties either jurisdiction may end up prosecuting the case. Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman said investigators are working to determine which assault caused the injuries that led to Hassanen’s death. He said it appears the second assault killed her. If that is the case, Loudoun will prosecute.
“Our goal, at this point, with having the suspect in custody, is to ensure that this case is prosecuted properly and that he gets the punishment that he deserves,” Parker said.
ADAMS has licensed counselors on site to assist anyone affected by the event, Board of Trustees Chair Rizwan Jaka said. Members of the community have also set up a crowdfunding site on behalf of the Hassanen family to assist with the burial costs.
The South Lakes High School Muslim Student Association is hosting a vigil for Hassanen at 6:30 p.m. June 21 at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston.