The memorial was being held for the 16-year-old teen who was killed in an apparent hate crime while coming home during Ramadan.
A memorial to Nabra Hassanen, the 17-year-old girl bludgeoned to death after leaving her mosque in Virginia, was set on fire early Wednesday, further increasing speculation that her death was a hate crime.
Darwin Martinez Torres, a 22-year-old from El Salvador suspected of being in the USA illegally, was jailed without bail on a murder charge after the girl's body was pulled from a pond near his apartment.
Authorities had thought about shifting the case for jurisdictional reasons because Nabra was found dead in the neighboring county. 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres has been arrested and charged with the murder. "We are still sorting out all of the facts". Police say there's also evidence that Hassanen was raped.
Police said the incident occurred at about 3:40 a.m. Sunday, when a group of teenagers was heading to an overnight event at a mosque. One teen got in an argument with the driver of a red auto, who has been identified as Torres.
Torres then allegedly took Hassanen in his auto to another location and attacked her again, and her body was found in a pond Sunday afternoon.
"I can't believe it", Martinez-Torres' aunt, who asked not to be identified, told reporters at his court arraignment Monday.
After the teen's funeral and burial, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. spoke with The Associated Press about the community's concerns.
Hassanen's death and the fire at her memorial come during a time when the United States is experiencing a surge in violence against Muslims. The service was held in the Northern Virginia community where she'd lived.
Mourners embrace at the vigil in NY on Tuesday. Although she says she's happy living and working here in "the best country in the world" - "the most modern, (with) the most civilized people, the most kind people", she says - she still can't wrap her head around the animosity that some Muslims face. "An angel was taken".
"I've known her since she was in the second grade", Salis said.
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The case continued to strike a chord well beyond Virginia on Tuesday.
Vigils, funeral planned for Muslim teen killed in Va.
Rania Salem, 21, of Arlington was one of the first to arrive.
Lamia Sarver of McLean does not usually attend the ADAMS mosque, but said she wants to support the Hassanen family. We're going to remember her all my life. "We are upset. Our children are not safe", she said. "We believe there is more to the story".
Many outside observers are skeptical of the police's conclusion, especially Muslims who say the case looks much like a hate crime.
Despite this, public pressure on law enforcement to investigate the murder as a hate crime continues to intensify.
He does not, however, face hate crime charges.
The FBI defines a hate crime as a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated" by an offender's bias against a certain race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity.
Beyond the tougher potential punishment, formally attaching the hate-crime label in court can signal to the broader community that certain heinous acts are different due to their intended impact. He said the community is grieving, but needs to remain strong. "The Muslim community should know that we stand united with them during this extremely hard time". Why was he running behind the kids wearing Islamic clothes with a baseball stick?
"You think you know someone because of what people say about them, but if people got to know each other, got to know people of different backgrounds", she said, "a lot of the hatred-fueled acts like this wouldn't exist".