A Prince George’s County grand jury indicted a Maryland man on one count of murder in the stabbing of a Bowie State University student that is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
The indictment, issued Thursday against Sean Urbanski, 22, comes nearly two months after Richard Collins III was killed visiting the University of Maryland campus in College Park.
Local and federal law enforcement said they are still sifting through evidence to decide whether Urbanski should also be charged with a hate crime — a determination expected in the coming weeks.
“Developing a motive is always a challenging . . . and in this case and every other case, we can’t get it wrong,” Angela Alsobrooks, the state’s attorney for the county, said in announcing the murder charge Thursday.
Collins was visiting two friends at U-Md. on May 20 when Urbanski approachedthem at a bus stop around 3 a.m., police said. Urbanski told Collins to move, police said, and Collins refused. Urbanski, who is white, then pulled a knife and stabbed Collins, an African American, in a “totally unprovoked” attack, police said.
Urbanski fled but was later found near the scene of the stabbing with a folding knife in his pocket, police said.
The incident was captured on video, prosecutors said.
“He was simply standing with friends when, completely unprovoked, he was repeatedly stabbed at the bus stop,” Alsobrooks said.
Collins’s slaying came during what should have been a time of celebration for the young man, who was to graduate from Bowie State days later and had recently been commissioned in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant.
Urbanski’s attorney, who did not respond to a request for comment Thursday, said previously that drugs and alcohol may have played a role in the incident.
The possibility of drugs and alcohol in Urbanski’s system are “still aspects of our investigation that we’re not prepared to discuss,” Alsobrooks said.
When reached Thursday, a spokesman for the Collins family said they would not be commenting on the indictment.
If Urbanski is convicted, Alsobrooks said her office would seek the maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
Collins’s killing drew national attention and outcry.
Urbanski’s association with a Facebook group that is called “Alt-Reich: Nation” stoked concerns of a possible hate crime amid heightened racial tensions at the University of Maryland and at other colleges across the country.
Authorities said the group posted racist and inflammatory material, but one of the site’s creators told the media that the page was intended to be satire.
In response to Collins’s slaying, the University of Maryland announced a number of initiatives intended to review how the college investigates, reports and prevents hate crimes.
Initially, authorities said it didn’t appear that the stabbing was racially motivated, but they later enlisted the FBI’s help after finding Urbanski’s link to the social media page.
Alsobrooks said law enforcement officials still have “quite a bit of evidence to go through” as they determine possible hate-crime charges. Urbanski had “multiple digital devices” that will take time to analyze, she said.
If authorities determine that Collins’s killing was racially motivated, prosecutors can request a superseding indictment from the grand jury to charge Urbanski with a hate crime.
“Because we appreciate and respect that this family deserves to know as best we can why this happened to their son, it’s important for us to get it right,” Alsobrooks said. “The ‘why’ is something we all want to know.”