Richard Collins III was waiting for an Uber on the University of Maryland campus when he was attacked. Sean Urbanski approached the 23-year-old and two of his friends at about 3 AM.
"Step left, step left if you know what's best for you," Urbanski yelled, according to the Baltimore Sun.
After Collins refused, witnesses said, Urbanski stabbed him once in the chest with a folding knife. The wound was fatal.
The FBI is now investigating whether the murder was also a hate crime. That's because Urbanski, who is white, belonged to a racist Facebook group called Alt-Reich Nation, according to police. If the feds' theory proves correct, Collins might be among the many young white men who've been radicalized on social media in recent years. According to one report released last September by researchers at George Washington University, white nationalist movements on Twitter alone have seen a follower increase of about 600 percent since 2012.
Urbanski's Facebook is mostly bare but portrays an unremarkable 22-year-old guy who follows the NFL. He doesn't have a criminal record and was a senior at the University of Maryland, although he was not set to graduate this year. Police said they suspected he had been drinking prior to caring out his attack.
Meanwhile, a family spokesperson described Collins as "caring" and "highly intelligent." He was about to graduate from Bowie State University with a degree in business administration and had just become a second lieutenant in the Army. His friends said he was funny and planned to travel the world.
University officials are worried that the seemingly random murder could cause a panic given the tense national political environment and sometimes raucous protests over racially charged police killings in recent years. There have been three recent incidents of white supremacist posters appearing on the Maryland campus.
"If I'm a person of color I would certainly look at this as something that could happen to me. In fact, I know on Facebook our students are saying that," University of Maryland police chief David Mitchell said, according to the Associated Press.
Urbanski has been charged with first- and second-degree murder––as well as first-degree assault––and is being held without bond. It was unclear if he had a lawyer as of Monday morning.
In what seems like a response to the crime, an administrator for Alt-Reich Nation has been posting links related to black-on-white crime. One contained a macro image of a young white guy in a tuxedo overlaid with the message that he'd been stabbed to death by a black man who randomly stabs people on college campuses. (Police said the assailant in that case did not target specific victims and that he had a history of mental illness.)
"[Collins] was a graduate of airborne school who was headed into the military intelligence corps," one iconoclastic commenter intoned on the thread. "His life was taken by some white trash POS who wasn't going to do a damn thing constructive with his sorry little, shitty hate filled life. RIP Second Lieutenant Collins."
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