U.S. Army Lieutenant Richard Collins III was laid to rest on May 26, 2017 after being brutally stabbed to death by suspected white supremacist Sean Urbanski.
Hundreds of supporters, family members, and friends attended Collins’ funeral that began with “The Star Spangled Banner.” Letters from members of Congress, such as Maryland Representative Anthony Brown and Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, were read during the funeral. Family members spoke at the funeral and remembered Collins as a mischievous young man who always smiled.
Collins’ casket had the American flag draped over it and was adorned with red, white and blue flowers.
The family pastor made sure to add some words at the end of the funeral: “We have to stop this hate and love one another.”
On May 20 around 3 A.M, 23-year-old Collins, a student of Bowie State University, stood near a bus stop as he waited for an Uber with a group of friends, who attended the University of Maryland. Suddenly, 22-year-old Urbanski, student of the University of Maryland, approached Collins and his friends. The group of friends that were present during the crime scene reported that Urbanski shouted commands at Collins to follow.
Urbanski said, “Step left if you know what’s good for you!”
Collins was taken aback by the sudden orders that Urbanski shouted, but he refused to follow them. At that moment, his friends reported that Urbanski became angry, rushed toward Collins, and stabbed him in his chest. The victim immediately fell to the floor and his friends tried to perform CPR on him.
Unfortunately, once the ambulance arrived to take Collins, he was in critical condition and was declared dead at the hospital. Collins’ death occurred two days after he was commissioned as a U.S. army lieutenant and three days before his Bowie State University graduation. Meanwhile, Urbanski ran from the crime scene only to be caught by local police 50 miles away.
Freshman Justin Tran said, “When I heard about the murder, I was very heartbroken. This young man had everything going for him, but it was all taken away by some maniac.”
Urbanski was charged with first and second degree murder, though Urbanski’s attorney, William C. Brennan, asked authorities to give a lighter sentence because his client was intoxicated during the night of the murder. Brennan claimed that due to his intoxication, Urbanski did not have control of what he was doing.
Local authorities questioned the motive as to why Urbanski would murder Collins randomly. Due to this curiosity, authorities turned to the FBI for help in the investigation in order to determine whether the murder was a hate-crime. The FBI was able to discover the fact that Urbanski was an active member of the “Alt-Reich,” a racist Facebook page.
The Alt-Reich Facebook page spread racist and bias messages toward African Americans, Jews, and other “minority” groups. Authorities believe that they have enough evidence to prove that Urbanski killed Collins as an act of racism, though the investigation remains open.
Freshman Thomas Emens said, “It is so shocking that racism and prejudice is still a thing today! Collins was killed by a man blinded by racist views.”
On May 22, a candlelight vigil in honor of Collins was held at 7 P.M. in MLK Patio located near Bowie State. Classmates and family members attended the small ceremony and shared memories that they had with Collins. At the end of the candlelight vigil, participants released balloons.
One day later, on May 23, Bowie State University’s graduation was held. The university dedicated a moment of silence to Collins during the commencement ceremony. Administrators of the university also made sure that Collins’ graduation gown was draped over an empty seat in the front row in his memory.
Collins’ family attended the graduation and Richard Collins Sr., the victim’s father, accepted his son’s bachelor’s degree in business administration. Collins Sr. described his son as a very intelligent and generous young man. He also explained how Collins planned on serving in the U.S army after graduation.
What can authorities or the U.S. government do in order to prevent racist ideas from becoming popular through social media?