Funeral for Muslim teen killed in attack near Virginia mosque draws throngs – Washington Post

 In U.S.
The Northern Virginia Muslim community and grieving high-schoolers gathered on Wednesday to mourn Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year-old killed while she was walking to her mosque with friends on Sunday.

Dranesville Road, which was largely empty when an attacker beat Nabra there early Sunday morning, was packed with people walking along the same sidewalk to attend her funeral. In traditional Muslim garb and Western attire, they walked and drove from every direction to All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS).

The mosque in Sterling is where Nabra and her friends were returning about 4 a.m. Sunday after going to eat at a nearby McDonald’s before their Ramadan fast that would begin at dawn.

Bright Mylar balloons on Wednesday marked the spot where Nabra was assaulted after a driver in what police have called “road rage” approached the group of teens on their bikes and walking, jumped a curb and, as other teens fled, caught up to Nabra in a parking lot after she had fallen behind, police have said.

Authorities arrested Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, in her killing, after a Fairfax County officer noticed him circling the site Sunday after Nabra had been reported missing shortly after the other teens reached the mosque.

Police said Martinez Torres, a construction worker, beat Nabra with a baseball bat and left her body in a pond near his apartment building in Sterling in Loudoun County. Her remains were found Sunday afternoon.

Funeral traffic clogged the streets as officers guided mourners who were rapidly filling the parking lot at ADAMS.

The brutal assault has alarmed the surrounding Muslim community and reverberated nationally with calls for a hate-crime investigation as vigils were held in several major cities. A vigil in Dupont Circle in the District on Tuesday night drew hundreds, and hundreds — many of them young — attended a vigil in Reston on Wednesday night.

“We heard about this type of hatred. We never thought it was going to happen in our neighborhood,” said Rhab Saad, who lives in the same apartment complex as the Hassanens and described Nabra as respectful to elderly neighbors and a helpful babysitter of small children. “Muslim kids and Christian kids in this neighborhood grow up together. We’re all family.”

A student at South Lakes High School in Reston, Nabra was known for her enthusiasm for fashion and makeup. Friends said she was always there to listen to them, and she befriended everybody she came across.

(Alice Li/The Washington Post)

The night she died, she had just hosted a big group of friends for an iftar — the Ramadan break-the-fast dinner — at her Reston apartment. The room was packed with teens in Nabra’s circle, both Muslim and non-Muslim.

When Neshanti Morgan transferred from a private Christian school to Langston Hughes Middle School, she knew next to nothing about Islam. When she befriended Nabra, she said, she was so intrigued by her friend’s religion that she wanted to try fasting for Ramadan.

Those school days watching everyone eating in the busy lunchroom while she and Nabra and their other Muslim friends fasted were tough. But Neshanti stuck with it and gained a lasting appreciation for Islam and for the way Nabra shared her culture with her friends.

“She was very, very kindhearted, always smiling, always dancing,” Neshanti, 16, said on Wednesday as she walked into ADAMS, where the funeral prayer service was starting.

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