STERLING, Va. - Thousands attended a funeral service as 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen, a Muslim girl who was killed walking to a Virginia mosque, was laid to rest on Wednesday.
Emotion filled the room at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) as thousands of people attended the funeral prayer service for the teen who died on Sunday. Many who had no connection to the 17-year-old traveled from other states to pay their final respects. A large portion of those in attendance were forced to stand outside of the ceremony because of the lack of space.
Nabra was with a group of about 15 teenagers in the Sterling area as they made their way back to the ADAMS at about 3 a.m., according to police. Officials said the group had stopped at a McDonald's between Ramadan prayers.
Police said the argument escalated and Torres pulled over, chased the group with a baseball bat and attacked Nabra. After hitting her with the bat, authorities said Torres took Nabra in his car to another nearby location and assaulted her again. Her body was later found in a pond.
Authorities confirmed Nabra was assaulted twice before her death - once in Loudoun and once in Fairfax - and said they were investigating whether she was sexually assaulted during one of those attacks.
“It’s an active investigation and we are pursuing that possibility, but we have to await forensic examination results and the report of autopsy from the medical examiner to confirm whether or not that took place,” said Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler.
There has been public outcry after police said they were investigating the teen’s death as a road rage incident and not as a hate crime.
“There is no evidence at this point in the investigation at all that this was hate motivated," Roessler said. "I as a law enforcement officer, especially as a chief of police, have an obligation to pursue justice. If there is any evidence that this is a hate crime, I promise you we will prosecute to the fullest. If anybody has information as a witness of any hate in this event, please come forward. And again, I want to be clear, there is absolutely no evidence uncovered at this point in time that this is a hate crime.”
Police are also investigating if the teenager was sexually assaulted.
It was a display of unity Wednesday night as a vigil called a “gathering of love” by ADAMS Center Imam Mohamed Magid was held Wednesday night at a community center in Reston. Many of the teenagers who were with Nabra during the early morning on the day of her murder were in attendance as well as students and staff from South Lakes High School, the school she attended.
One of Nabra’s two sisters came on to the stage and thanked the crowd and community for the show of love and support since Sunday's homicide.
“This gathering here today represents the spirit of Nabra,” said Imam Mohamed Magid. “Nabra was a very loving person. She was an interfaith person. She has friends from the Jewish community, from the Christian community. She was very generous and a very giving person. She brings energy to people around her and this gathering today represents her. Smiling is an active charity, and in my heart I truly believe Nabra is smiling now because the entire world around us is reaping benefits of her charity.”
This emotional day came after a large crowd gathered at Dupont Circle as vigils were held in several major cities for the teen Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday, officials said someone set Nabra’s memorial at the fountain in Dupont Circle on fire, but U.S. Park Police said the suspect, 24-year-old Jonathon Soloman, set several items from the park on fire and it did not appear he was intentionally targeting items from Nabra's memorial.
A donation page was established to help Nabra's family. To learn how to donate, click here.