BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The man charged with killing army lieutenant Richard Collins will face hate crime charges.
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney says Army 2nd lieutenant Richard Collins III was killed because of his race. She says overwhelming digital evidence supports it.
“What we’re saying is that race that Lieutenant Collins’ death he was killed because of his race,” says Angela Alsobrooks, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney.
A grand jury handed down the hate crime indictment against Sean Urbanski Tuesday afternoon.
Back in May, investigators say Urbanski stabbed Collins to death during a confrontation at a bus stop on the campus of the University of Maryland at College Park.
Students at Bowie State University say the charges are a long-time coming.
“He was just going to school, doing what he had to do, and that happened to him,” says Deandre House, Bowie State student.
Urbanski was a member of of the “Alt-Reich” nation Facebook group, a group in support of white supremacy. Investigators say Urbanski chose Collins at random, while the victim and his friends waited for an Uber to pick them up on the College Park campus.
With the help of the FBI and Prince George’s County Police, States’ Attorney Angela Alsobrooks says an overwhelming trail of digital evidence, from phones, computers and Facebook posts supports their claim that race was a factor in Collins’ death.
“What we can tell you is that we had a chance to analyze his phone, to analyze computers. There was a lot of digital evidence we could look at,” says Alsobrooks.
She wouldn’t give specifics on the case, saying her office will continue to seek justice for lieutenant Collins, but hopes the indictment sends a strong message. Alsobrooks would not confirm if the suspect’s Facebook activity was the evidence that lead to the hate crime charge.
“This kind of behavior absolutely will not be accepted and tolerated and that we will do justice in this case, and any other case where a person is injured or killed or harmed because of his or her race,” says Alsobrooks.
“What other possible motive could there be? I think it was racism. It was just the motive,” says Bowie State student Emily Melgar.
The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement: “While we remain saddened by the loss of one of our community members to this senseless act, we are encouraged that authorities are treating this situation with the gravity it deserves. It is always important to be able to call a hate crime what it is.”
Bowie State University President Aminta H. Breaux said in a statement: “The Bowie State University community continues to mourn the loss of 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III, whose life was taken in a senseless act of violence. While it is encouraging to see progress being made in the criminal case, we continue to reflect on the precious life lost.”
With the hate crime charge added if convicted, Urbanski could face life in prison without parole, plus an additional 20 years. Prosecutors say they still plan to seek life without parole against Urbanski.
Urbanski’s trial is set to get underway in January.