According to local news reports, fire officials say that the D.C. memorial for slain Muslim teenager Nabra Hassanen was set on fire. D.C. Police say that Jonathan Soloman, a 24-year-old from South Carolina, has been arrested in connection with the fire.
The 17-year-old Hassanen was assaulted and killed in Virginia Sunday after attending midnight Ramadan prayers. Officials said that Hassanen, whose death has prompted rallies in several cities, was walking with a group of other teenagers returning to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque after a late-night outing to McDonald's that followed midnight Ramadan prayers. Police said that a motorist became enraged with the group during a traffic argument and pulled over to confront them.
The motorist, who is suspected to be 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres, struck Hassanen with a bat and then took her into his car. The other teenagers ran to the mosque to report the incident, and Torres allegedly drove Hassanen to another location, where he assaulted her again. According to officials, the remains of Hassanen's body were found in a pond later that Sunday. Her death is not being investigated as a hate crime, but as a "road rage incident" at this time, and police have confirmed that they are investigating whether or not Hassanen was sexually assaulted.
Hassanen's father, Mohmoud Hassanen, told the Guardian that he believes Nabra's murder was indeed a hate crime, regardless of what the police say. "He followed the girls, and all of them had head cloths, meaning they are Muslim, and he had a baseball stick," Mohmoud said of Nabra's killer. “He was running behind these kids. I told the detective, ‘I want to ask him one question: Why did he do that? Because he doesn’t like Muslims, or what?’ He tells me he has no answer for that. This answer is going to be in the court.”
In the days since Hassnen's death made the news, people across the country have held protests and vigils to remember Hassanen's life and to call for justice. At the time of writing this article, more than $300,000 had been raised on a crowdfunding platform for Hassanen's family, as people called for justice under the hashtag #JusticeforNabraon Twitter.
As for the fire at the D.C. memorial, fire officials were able to extinguish the flame after receiving a call around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. It was unclear as to how much of the memorial remained.