FBI investigating U.Md. fatal stabbing as possible hate crime

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The FBI and University of Maryland police are investigating whether the stabbing death of a visiting student on the College Park campus is a hate crime.

Sean Urbanski. Urbanski was charged Sunday, May 21, 2017, with fatally stabbing a visiting student on campus in what police have described as an unprovoked attack that rattled the school over graduation weekend. (University of Maryland Police Department via AP)

Investigators  believe race could be the key motivator in the death of 23-year-old Richard Collins III, who is a black student from Bowie State University.

Sean Christopher Urbanski, 22, of Severna Park, Maryland, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder in the case. Urbanski, who is white, is a member of a white supremacist Facebook group, according to University of Maryland police Chief David Mitchell.

Campus police responded to a report of an assault with a knife on Regents Drive near Montgomery Hall at a bus stop around 3:05 a.m. Saturday.

Officers found Collins on the sidewalk suffering from stab wounds to his chest, police said.

He was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

According to police, Collins and Urbanski did not know each other and the attack was unprovoked.

Collins, who was commissioned recently as a lieutenant in the Army, had been visiting friends at College Park. He was set to graduate from Bowie State on Tuesday.

According to The Associated Press, Urbanski was listed as a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation,” where members leave racially charged posts. A link to a Facebook page with his photo and the name of the high school in the town where police said he lived was included in the group’s membership list.

The attack came as the University of Maryland hosted visitors for graduation festivities.

During Sunday’s University of Maryland graduation ceremony, school President Wallace Loh led students and their families in a moment of silence for the slain Bowie State student.

“We are still in shock that a young man, so full of promise, should have his life cut short, so suddenly,” Loh said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, and with the entire Bowie State University community.”

WTOP’s John Domen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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