Opinion: Editorial: Losing One of Our Own

Opinion: Editorial: Losing One of Our Own

Worst fear of any parent of a teenager: losing a child to violence.

Later this week, when area Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan, a month of observance and daily fasting at Eid al-Fitr, the surrounding community grieves with them the loss of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen of Reston.

Nabra was among a group of teenagers who were gathered at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society for an all-night event overnight Saturday during Ramadan, and who were returning to the center after going to eat at a fast food restaurant.

Fairfax County Police report: “At about 3:40 a.m. on Sunday, a group of as many as 15 teenagers was walking and riding bikes on Dranesville Road. The group of teens had been attending an overnight event at a mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society or ADAMS Center, and had left to go to a fast food restaurant. As they were returning to the mosque, some were on the sidewalk and others were on the road itself. Detectives believe [Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling] came upon the teens while he was driving. The investigation reveals a teenaged boy on a bike began arguing with Torres. Torres then drove his car onto the curb as the group scattered. Witnesses say Torres caught up with them 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 Nabra. His anger over the encounter led to violence when he hit Nabra with a baseball bat. Torres then took Nabra with him in his car to a second location nearby in Loudoun County.”

Nabra’s body was found in a Loudoun pond. Torres is charged with her murder, which police describe as a road rage incident rather than a hate crime, although more charges could come later.

All parents who have successfully raised children into teenagers know fear for their safety as they become more independent. We expect our teens to be safe participating in events based at a house of worship. We expect our teens to be safe from violence. Nabra’s death means that all of us now have a diminished sense of safety; we all grieve with Nabra’s parents, who lost their beautiful and beloved daughter during Ramadan, on Father’s Day. We share their horror at what their daughter suffered.

Coming together in support of the Muslim community in vigil, prayers and other support has meant a great deal.

“Basically, the outpouring of support from the Christian community, the Jewish community, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Bahá'í; everyone is comforting to us,” Rizwan Jaka of the ADAMS Center told a Connection reporter. “People care so much and it means so much to us.”

But we will all feel the loss of Nabra Hassanen, and a loss of sense of safety here, in weeks and years to come.

— Mary Kimm