The FBI is investigating a fatal weekend stabbing at the University of Maryland to determine whether it is a hate crime, law enforcement officials said Sunday.
The university of Maryland student Christopher Sean Urbanski, 22, Severna Park, Md., faces charges of first-and second-degree murder as well as first-degree assault after he allegedly attacked Bowie State University student Richard Collins III.
According to the charging documents, Collins was waiting for an Uber with two friends on the College Park campus, around 3 a.m. Saturday, when a screaming Urbanski approached the group shouting, “Step left to left, step left to left if you know what is best for you.”
According to the documents, Collins said “no” and was stabbed in the chest with a folding knife. Urbanski was arrested on the scene after several witnesses identified him. The police said that the suspect had been drinking.
University of Maryland police chief David Mitchell told a press conference Sunday evening that he had called in the FBI after learning that Urbanski was a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation,” where members leave racially charged messages.
Urbanski is white and Collins was black.
“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, told reporters.
Mitchell, the head of the police, said that the attack has spread fear within the university.
“If I were a person of color, I would definitely look at this as something that could happen to me. In fact, I know on Facebook our students to say that,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell also told reporters that Collins was a senior at Bowie State was to graduate on Tuesday. Collins was recently appointed as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Dr. Artie Lee Travis, vice president for student affairs at Bowie State, said the school hopes the investigation moves forward as quickly as possible.
“Hate has no place in America,” said Travis. “Hate has no place on a college campus, where young people come together to try to change the world,” he said.
Brian Douglas, who was recently close to Collins when they took a class together, said the man was looking for the graduate.
“He was just fun, just a good young man around. If you can’t find that too often in today’s society,” Douglas said.
Ciera Sorrell, who also had a class with Collins, said that his murder shocked the Bowie State community.
“Everyone is in disbelief,” she said. “He seemed so excited to get to his life and that he has no chance,” she said.
University of Maryland President Wallace Loh led students and their families in a moment of silence during the Sunday of the graduation ceremony.
“We are still in shock that a young man, so full of promise, his life too short, so suddenly,” Loh said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends, and with the entire Bowie State University community.”
The two universities are about 12 miles apart.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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