Bowie State University honored slain student Richard Collins III at this year’s graduation ceremony. Collins, 23, was murdered days before he was scheduled to walk the stage.
A seat was left empty at the commencement ceremony on Tuesday (May 23), with Collins’ gown and stole draped across a chair. His parents accepted his degree in business administration.
Richard Collins III’s graduation gown draped over front row chairs at Bowie State University ceremony. He was murdered Saturday. pic.twitter.com/dq7CsBzpLl
— Neal Augenstein (@AugensteinWTOP) May 23, 2017
A moment of silence was also held in honor of Collins. “Let us pause now in a moment of silence and contemplation of what each of us might do to promote greater peace, harmony and love that seems to be so lacking in our country and our world today,” said Bowie State president Mickey Burnim.
The ceremony was held on the University of Maryland campus, the same location where Collins was fatally stabbed Saturday (May 20).
Collins had finished up a visit with friends and was waiting for an Uber at around 3:00 a.m. in the morning, when he encountered 22-year-old University of Maryland student, Sean Christopher Urbanski. According to The Nation, witnesses overheard Urbanski, who is white, tell Collins, who was black, to move out of the way, “If you know what’s best for you.”
But Collins stood his ground, refusing to move. Urbanski stabbed him before fleeing the scene. He was later arrested and charged with murder.
Collins, who recently made second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, died at a local hospital. “He was just competitive at heart, and had a loving and giving heart,” his father said in an interview with the Washington D.C. affiliate of NBC News. “He would go out of his way, sometimes to my chagrin, to try and help others. But you want to try to encourage that in your children.”
The FBI is investigating the murder as a hate crime, due to Urbanski’s affiliation with a white supremacist Facebook group.