CRIME

The Latest: Diverse crowd at vigil for slain Muslim teen

The Latest on the killing of a teenage girl as she and her friends returned to a mosque in Virginia (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

A crowd of several thousand has gathered for a vigil organized by the Muslim Student Association at a slain Virginia teen's high school.

Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dallas Area Muslim Society mosque where Nabra Hassanen worshipped noted the diversity of the crowd Wednesday evening. He expressed gratitude "to see we are part of the larger community to stand against bigotry, stand against hate."

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who counted Hassanen among his constituents, was one of many political figures who attended. He said the teen's death has prompted the entire community to rally and that the Muslim community is not alone in its grief.

Hassanen was killed early Sunday morning as she and a group of friends returned to Ramadan prayers at the mosque after a pre-dawn meal. Police have charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres with murder, which they said appears to be motivated by road rage.

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7:45 p.m.

Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. has spoken with The Associated Press about the possibility of a hate crime investigation in the beating death of Muslim teenager Nabra Hassanen in Virginia.

Roessler said police have "absolutely no evidence" that her killing was motivated by hate, but says "that's the myth, isn't it?"

The chief acknowledged that many people still strongly feel that it must have been a hate crime.

Virginia law defines these crimes, in part, as attempts to intimidate or instill fear in people targeted for their race or religion.

The chief wants anyone with evidence that Hassanen's killing was motivated by hate to come forward. He says that "if evidence develops of a hate crime, I promise we will charge to the highest levels."

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6:10 p.m.

Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler has told The Associated Press in an interview that police are investigating whether 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen was sexually assaulted.

Roessler says his detectives are waiting on forensic tests on the Muslim teenager's body, which was pulled from a pond on Sunday.

He says "we're doing a thorough investigation." The possibility of a sexual assault, he says, "is something of concern to us."

Fairfax Police have charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres with murder. They said he beat her with a baseball bat early Sunday, drove off with her in his car, assaulted her again and then dumped her body in a pond near his home. His public defender's office has declined to comment.

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5:45 p.m.

The funeral of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen is over at her mosque in Sterling, Virginia, and people are preparing for a public vigil in nearby Reston, where her family lives.

An estimated 5,000 people attended the service at the All Dallas Area Muslim Society, where Imam Mohamed Magid remembered the teenager as a shining example of kindness and openness.

Most of the mourners were Muslim, but Christians and Jews attended as well. The ADAMS Center is one of the largest mosques in the United States, and has a long history of interfaith outreach and activism. Board chair Rizwan Jaka said there has been "just a tremendous outpouring of support" from people of all faiths.

Police have charged a 22-year-old motorist, Darwin Martinez Torres of Sterling, with her murder. Police say he became enraged after driving up to a group of teenagers from the mosque and chased them down with a baseball bat, bludgeoning the girl and dumping her body in a pond.

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2 p.m.

A Muslim teen who police say was killed by an angry motorist in northern Virginia is being described as a bright girl who was loved by her community.

Funeral services are being held at the ADAMS Center in Sterling Wednesday for 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen. Hassanen was killed early Sunday morning as she walked with a group of friends to the mosque to Ramadan prayers after a pre-dawn meal.

Imam Mohamed Magid described Hassanen as bright, beautiful, energetic and generous. He said the community is grieving, but needs to remain strong. He says "this community will not forget this young lady or her family."

Police have charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres of Sterling with murder, which they said appeared to be motivated by road rage.

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1:30 p.m.

Thousands of mourners have walked more than a mile after traffic overflowed in northern Virginia, where people have gathered at a mosque to pay respects to a 17-year-old girl Muslim girl who was fatally beaten this weekend.

Rizwan Jaka, spokesman for the ADAMS Center in Sterling, said he expected anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 people to attend the funeral services for Nabra Hassanen.

Hassanen was killed early Sunday morning as she too walked with a group of friends for more than a mile, returning from a pre-dawn meal to Ramadan prayers.

Police have charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres of Sterling with murder, which they said appeared to be motivated by road rage.

Lamia Sarver of McLean does not usually attend the ADAMS mosque, but said she wants to support the Hassanen family. She said the tragedy hits home because she has a daughter Nabra's age.

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12:30 p.m.

Police in Virginia are continuing to investigate Sunday's fatal attack on a teenage Muslim girl.

Fairfax Police say Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. met personally with Imam Mohamed Magid and other leaders of the girl's mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, and assured them that his department "will continue to diligently investigate the case."

The funeral of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen is being held Wednesday afternoon at the mosque. Chief Roessler and Imam Magid will be at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston to speak with the community before a public vigil at 6:30 p.m.

Police have said her beating death appears to be a case of road rage, but many outside observers are skeptical, especially Muslims who say the case looks much like a hate crime.

Police said 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres beat her with a baseball bat after chasing a group of teenagers he encountered in the road on Sunday.

Police say the girl was assaulted a second time before her body was dumped in a pond in Loudon County, but the Fairfax detectives continue to take the lead in the case.

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4:15 a.m.

Virginia detectives say the beating death of a teenage Muslim girl appears to have been a case of road rage, but the case has left doubt among Islamic leaders who say it looks too much like a hate crime.

Police say 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen 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.

A funeral service is planned for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday for Hassanen at her northern Virginia mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society. A vigil also is planned for Wednesday in Hassanen's hometown of Reston, Virginia.

Twenty-two-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres is being held without bail on a murder charge.