The stabbing death of a Black Bowie State University student by the hands of a White University of Maryland student has sent shockwaves through both campuses.
On Saturday, police found the 22-year-old white man, Sean Urbanski, a student at the U of M, sitting on a campus bench a few feet away from the spot where witnesses said he had plunged his knife into the chest of Richard Collins III. Collins was pronounced dead just three days before he was scheduled to graduate from nearby Bowie State University.
ABC News reports that on Sunday, police arrested Urbanski and charged him with assault and first and second-degree murder, however, authorities are still investigating whether or not the unprovoked killing was a hate crime. People who knew Collins believe that the killing was racially motivated since Urbanski became a member of a racist Facebook group several months ago.
Police Chief Hank Stawinski said, “I know people are hurting. I know that people are drawing conclusions. I know that social media moves in its own way. But I’m asking as the Chief of Police in Prince George’s County that we take pause and allow all these investigators to do their work. They will know to a certainty what lies behind this, but we’re not there yet.” Sources say Urbanski was intoxicated during the slaying early Saturday and police are awaiting results of drug tests.
In a news conference late Monday, the Prince George’s County state’s attorney, Angela D. Alsobrooks, said Urbanski’s motive was unclear, though she did not rule out racial animus. She told reporters, “We do not have enough evidence to say conclusively whether this is a hate crime. What we can say is that we will leave no stone unturned.”
Defense attorney William C. Brennan also argued that since Sean Urbanski had no criminal record, he should be allowed to live at home with a GPS monitor and receive alcohol abuse treatment while his case goes forward. However, a judge declined and is holding the 22-year-old without bail.
The “Alt-Reich: Nation” Facebook group that the suspect recently joined had about 1,100 members and included racist, sexist and anti-Semitic photos and posts. It has since been taken down.