Slain Bowie State student granted honorary promotion to first lieutenant by secretary of the Army

Richard W. Collins III

Slain Bowie State ROTC student 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins III was granted an honorary promotion on Wednesday by the secretary of the Army.

Collins, who was killed before he could serve his first assignment for the Army, was promoted to first lieutenant, according to a news release. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and four legislators from Maryland — U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Reps. Steny Hoyer and Anthony Brown — supported the decision.


“Securing for Second Lieutenant Collins the rightful recognition of the contributions he made as an ROTC student at Bowie State University and the impact he most certainly would have made during his military service was overdue," the lawmakers said in the release. “We do not know what would have been, but we do know that his memory will stand as a reminder of the duty, honor and sacrifice borne daily by our servicemen on and off the battlefield.”

Collins was about to graduate from Bowie State University in 2017 when he was stabbed while visiting the University of Maryland, College Park.


Sean Urbanski, 24, of Severna Park was found guilty of first-degree murder in Collins’ death in December 2019. Police say Urbanski, who’s white, was connected to a Facebook page called Alt-Reich: Nation and told Collins, an African American, “Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you” before stabbing him.

Ryan D. McCarthy, secretary of the Army, wrote in a letter to lawmakers that Collins displayed “exemplary conduct” to merit the honorary promotion. He said it was an “honor” to recommend Collins.

“2LT Collins’ life was tragically cut short by a murderer two days after his commissioning," he said in the letter. “2LT Collins’ actions on May 20, 2017, exhibited character and exemplary conduct of an officer of a higher rank. In addition to standing firm in the face of evil, 2L T Collins was a model student and cadet at Bowie State University.”