BOWIE, Md. - A Bowie State University student and Army officer set to celebrate his graduation this week was instead honored at a vigil on his campus Monday.
Richard Collins III was murdered at University of Maryland Saturday in what police are calling an unprovoked attack. The FBI is helping investigate whether it was a hate crime.
At Monday's vigil, there was barely enough room in the auditorium for all the people who came to remember Collins. A video of his Army commission ceremony was played for the crowd, with Collins thanking the faculty at Bowie State for helping him become "the man that I am."
Collins was also remembered for his integrity.
"I'm going to remember his character first and foremost," said Lt. Col. Joel Thomas, who led Collins in the schools ROTC program.
"Lt. Collins was funny, brilliant and not just smart, but brilliant," said 2nd Lt. Talitha Royster.
"He was outstanding, no question about it," said Bowie State University President Dr. Mickey Burnim.
Collins had been out with friends celebrating his promotion to second lieutenant when he was stabbed.
Police say University of Maryland student Sean Urbanski told Collins to step out of his way prior to the crime. Urbanski was arrested at the scene of the crime. Police found him sitting on a nearby bench, according to charging documents. They believe he had been drinking.
Police said Sunday that Urbanski was a member of a racist group on Facebook called Alt-Reich Nation, which is hateful toward women and minorities, especially African-Americans.
"You have to wonder what is wrong with our world," Dr. Burnim. "Why is violence so rampant in our society? Why?"
Lt. Col. Thomas broke down in tears as he finished his remarks.
"I ask you as we move forward, let's cry, let's remember and laugh, let's keep on working," he told the crowd. "And let's celebrate Richard by being great every day."
School officials said there will be a moment of silence for Collins at Tuesday's commencement.