FBI investigating University of Maryland stabbing as a hate crime

AP

The FBI is evaluating whether a white student suspected of fatally stabbing a black student visiting the University of Maryland campus should be tried for a hate crime, university police said in a press conference, according to CNN

On Sunday, University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell told reporters that 23-year-old Richard Wilbur Collins III had been walking on campus with two friends early Saturday morning when the suspect approached him "yelling — in fact, perhaps screaming, is one description," Mitchell said. 

Students gather for a candlelight vigil at College Park in the wake of the stabbing.  Carolyn Kaster/AP

"[Urbanski] then said, 'Step left, step left if you know what's good for you,'" Mitchell said, quoting witnesses.

Collins refused. The suspect — 22-year-old Sean Christopher Urbanski — then allegedly stabbed Collins in the chest with a knife. Collins was transported to Prince George's County Shock Trauma, where he was declared dead.

Sean Christopher Urbanski, the man accused of fatally stabbing Richard Wilbur Collins III on the University of Maryland campus on Saturday.  Uncredited/AP

Collins had been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army two days before the fatal incident and had been preparing to graduate from Bowie State University on Tuesday, Mitchell said. 

Urbanski, a University of Maryland student, had belonged to a Facebook group called "Alt Reich." 

"When I looked at information contained on [the] website, it's despicable. It shows extreme bias against women, Latinos, members of the Jewish faith and especially African-Americans," Mitchell said. "Which brings up questions as to the motive of this case."

Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell addressed reporters on Sunday.  Carolyn Kaster/AP

The suspect has already been charged with first and second-degree murder and first-degree assault, according to a UMPD press release.

On Saturday, University of Maryland president Wallace D. Loh said in a statement that the "horrific assault" had "shocked, saddened and angered our community and beyond."

"New information obtained today from witnesses and other sources has led law enforcement officials to consider a hate-bias motive in this case," Loh said. "To ensure a comprehensive investigation, UMPD today asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide technical and forensic expertise, which it agreed to do."

Correction: May 29, 2017
An earlier version of this article misidentified who said, "Step left, step left if you know what's good for you." It was Urbanski, according to reports.