A judge has denied bond for a white University of Maryland student accused of fatally stabbing a young black student at a campus bus stop.
Sean Christopher Urbanski, 22, is charged with murder in the death early Saturday of Richard Collins III, 23, a recently commissioned US Army lieutenant who was due to graduate this week from nearby Bowie State University.
Urbanski is a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich,” which spews hatred toward minorities “and especially African-Americans,” University of Maryland’s police chief, David Mitchell, said.
Given that evidence, the FBI is assisting the investigation as officials try to determine whether the incident may have been a hate crime, the agency announced.
While denying Urbanski bond on Monday, Maryland District Judge Patrice E. Lewis called him “an absolute danger to the community.”
A promising life ends in bizarre encounter
Collins was just three days away from graduating from Bowie State when he went to visit friends at the University of Maryland, the police chief said.
At about 3 a.m. Saturday, Collins and his friends were approached by Urbanski, police said.
Urbanski started yelling bizarre commands at Collins, witnesses said, according to police.
“He said to the victim, ‘Step left, step left if you know what’s good for you,'” the witnesses recalled, according to the police chief.
“The victim looked at him puzzled with the other friends of his and said ‘No,'” Mitchell said. “It was then that (the suspect) stabbed the victim in his chest.”
Collins fell backwards, Mitchell said. His friends tried to help him before university officers arrived and performed CPR, he said. Collins was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Urbanski has been charged with first- and second-degree murder as well as first-degree assault. As of Monday, it was not clear whether the 22-year-old had an attorney.
‘Alt-Reich’ group now offline
Central to the FBI deciding whether the incident could have been a hate crime is the Alt-Reich Facebook page.
“When I looked at the information that’s contained on that website … 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,” he said.
The Facebook page has since been taken offline.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes and hate groups, said it had not heard of “Alt-Reich” prior to the Maryland killing.
But in recent months, there has been a jump in racist groups naming themselves variations of the term “alt-right,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project.
Grief across two campuses
Collins will be honored Monday evening at a vigil on Bowie State’s campus.
“As we struggle to deal with our emotions, let’s find appropriate ways to express our sorrow and hope for justice,” Bowie State University President Mickey Burnim said in a statement.
“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.”
About 10 miles west of Bowie, the killing has “shocked, saddened, and angered our community and beyond,” University of Maryland President Wallace Loh said.
Security has ramped up, with extra police patrols on and off campus and 24-hour video monitoring, he said.
“However, increased police security is not sufficient,” Loh said. “We must all do more to nurture a climate — on campus and beyond — where we stand against hate, we fight against hate crimes, and we reaffirm the values that define us a university and as a democracy.”