A Prince George’s County grand jury handed up a murder indictment against a white University of Maryland student accused of the on-campus stabbing of a black Bowie State University student in May, the county’s top prosecutor said Thursday.
The FBI is working with county investigators to determine if a hate crime should be added to the first- and second-degree murder charges against Sean Christopher Urbanski, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks told reporters at the county courthouse in Upper Marlboro.
“This was an unprovoked attack, and we believe that Mr. Urbanski should face the highest possible penalty allowed by state law for his actions,” Ms. Alsobrooks said, adding that her office will seek the maximum penalty of life in prison without parole.
“We are continuing to investigate for a motive,” she said, adding that “developing a motive is always a challenge is often the most difficult aspect of [an investigation].”
The county prosecutor said that the FBI is analyzing the “multiple digital devices” in Mr. Urbanski’s possession at the time of the slaying and that its investigation should conclude in the coming weeks. She said her office could seek a superseding grand jury indictment if there is evidence that Mr. Urbanski committed a hate crime.
Mr. Urbanski’s next court date has not yet been set.
According to authorities, Mr. Urbanski fatally stabbed Army 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III, a Bowie State student who had been visiting friends at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus. The attack occurred at about 3 a.m. May 20 when Collins and two friends stood at a bus stop.
According to witness statements, Collins’ friends said they heard Mr. Urbanski yell as he approached them at the bus stop.
“Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you,” Mr. Urbanski told Collins, according to the witness statements. When Collins said “no,” Mr. Urbanski kept walking toward him and then stabbed Collins once in the chest, the statements say.
Campus police asked the FBI to help in the investigation after discovering that Mr. Urbanski belonged to a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation” that denigrated various ethnic groups in racially charged posts. The Facebook group, whose name combined “alt-right” and “Third Reich,” has since been deleted.
Ms. Alsobrooks said Thursday that Mr. Urbanski, 22, of Severna Park, did not belong to any on-campus groups or fraternities that have become part of the investigation.
The slaying followed the discovery of a noose hanging inside a fraternity house on the College Park campus and bananas dangling from light poles with the Greek letters of the mostly black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha written on them at American University in the District.
Collins, who had just received his Army commission, had been scheduled to graduate from Bowie State three days after the stabbing.
“We would like to offer our continuing condolences to the Collins family,” Ms. Alsobrooks said, adding that the slain officer “represented the best of our community.”
• Carleton Bryant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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