'It is tragic moment for all of us,' says Hassan Zekeria.
Thousands of mourners flocked to this northern Virginia suburb of Washington DC to pay their respects three days after the brutal murder of a Muslim teen.
Nabra Hassanen’s death was a blow to the community, said Hassan Zekeria, a 46-year-old area resident who went to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center mosque to attend her funeral prayer.
“It hurts her family and everyone in this area,” he somberly told Anadolu Agency. “It is tragic moment for all of us."
Hassanen was with a group of more than a dozen teen early Sunday as they returned to the ADAMS Center following a Ramadan pre-fast meal at a nearby fast-food restaurant.
An altercation broke out between one of the teens and a motorist police have identified as Darwin Martinez. As the dispute escalated, Martinez Torres, 22, drove up on to the curb, forcing the group of teens to scatter.
He then got out of his car with a bat.
Nabra, 17, was allegedly assaulted with the bat, thrown into the vehicle and taken to a second location where she was assaulted again before being thrown in a pond.
She is being buried at the nearby Sterling Cemetery.
Her burial will be followed by a vigil Wednesday night where more than 1,000 people are expected to pay their respects.
It is unclear what drove Martinez Torres to allegedly commit the grisly, senseless murder but police have said they have not come across any evidence to support hate crime charges beyond the murder charge he is facing.
Hunessa Fariad, an ADAMS Center official, said if there is even the smallest chance there was hate-based motivation behind the crime, the community wants the charges to be considered.
"We don’t want any motives being excluded from the investigation if there is probable cause," she said.
Amid the questions surrounding the murder, Fariad said now is a time for unity.
"At the end of the day when we break all the labels down, we need to celebrate each other, we need to protect each other, we need to be there for each other," she said.