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Police Investigate University Of Maryland Killing As Possible Hate Crime


The FBI is investigating the killing of a young man at the University of Maryland over the weekend. Authorities are trying to determine whether he was the victim of a hate crime. Patrick Madden of member station WAMU has our report.

PATRICK MADDEN, BYLINE: At a bus stop outside a dorm in College Park, Md., Diane Teichert adds a flower to the bench. It's a pink McCartney Rose plucked from her garden. She places it down on the bench now overflowing with candles and flowers.

DIANE TEICHERT: I just can't believe it. But I very much can believe it. And we have to believe it happened. And it has to stop.

MADDEN: Richard Collins III was stabbed to death here at this bus stop early Saturday morning. He was 23 years old and had recently been commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army. He was also a college student at nearby Bowie State. And Collins was black.

DAVID MITCHELL: We want to start with offering, once again, our deepest condolences.

MADDEN: At a press conference over the weekend, College Park Police Chief David Mitchell announced the arrest of 22-year-old Sean Urbanski, a white student at the University of Maryland. Authorities say Urbanski didn't know Collins.

And according to Chief Mitchell, Urbanski was a member of the Facebook group Alt Reich Nation. The group's name is a play on the Third Reich and features racially charged posts and memes. The content, Chief Mitchell says, was despicable.

MITCHELL: Shows extreme bias against women, Latinos.

MADDEN: Mitchell says it was that troubling material that prompted him to ask the FBI to take the lead in investigating whether Collins' death was racially motivated. Urbanski hasn't been charged with a hate crime yet. He's being held without bail in a Maryland jail cell on murder charges.

Collin's death shocked the College Park campus but the specter of racism at the University of Maryland wasn't a total surprise, according to several students interviewed. Earlier this month, a noose was found at a fraternity house prompting protests. And this spring, posters featuring white nationalist themes were discovered on several campus buildings. Darius Craig is a black student at the University of Maryland.

DARIUS CRAIG: Racism is real. It's real on this campus. And administration, President Loh, needs to begin to really take it seriously because this has got to stop.

MADDEN: Richard Collins was slated to graduate college tomorrow and report to the Army later this month. For NPR News, I'm Patrick Madden in College Park, Md. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Patrick Madden