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Authorities investigating University of Maryland killing as possible hate crime

By Andrew V. Pestano
Authorities investigating University of Maryland killing as possible hate crime
Sean Christoper Urbanski, 22, has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the stabbing death of Richard Collins III, which is being investigated as a hate crime, law enforcement authorities said. Photo courtesy of University of Maryland Police

May 22 (UPI) -- University of Maryland police and the FBI said they are investigating whether the stabbing death of Richard Collins III, a black student visiting the college, was a hate crime.

Maryland University Police Chief David Mitchell said the suspect -- white 22-year-old student Sean Christoper Urbanski -- is a member of the "Alt Reich: Nation" racist Facebook group. The suspect was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault. He is being held without bail.

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"When I looked at the information that's contained on that website, suffice it to say that it's despicable," Mitchell said. "It shows extreme bias against women, Latinos, members of the Jewish faith and especially African Americans. Which brings up questions as to the motive of this case."

Collins, 23, completed ROTC in college and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army on Thursday. He was three days away from graduating at Bowie State University before the attack occurred early Saturday.

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In the attack, Collins and his friends were approached by Urbanski as they stood near a road waiting for a bus but realized the bus stopped running for the night and decided to call an Uber, police said. Police described the attack, which was captured by a surveillance camera, as unprovoked.

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"We are here to evaluate that as an ongoing concern with respect to whether or not this was a hate crime," Gordon Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Baltimore, said.

In charging documents, police wrote the suspect said "Step left, step left if you know what's best for you," to which Collins said "no." The suspect continued to approach Collins and his friends prior to stabbing Collins once in the chest with a folding knife up to 4 inches long. Witnesses said Urbanski appeared intoxicated.

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"Our first thoughts of condolence go to the family for this tremendous loss of a son, who had the promise of a bright future. Our prayers of concern also extend to those within the Bowie State University community as we try to cope with this tragic loss of life," Bowie State University President Mickey L. Burnim said in a statement. "As we struggle to deal with our emotions, let's find appropriate ways to express our sorrow and hope for justice. Let's remember our words and actions have the power to heal and the power to hurt. Let's strive to use our actions to bring comfort and peace."

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