Michael Adams, 27, has been charged with first-degree murder over the killing in Arizona and his bail has been set at $1m (£800,000).
According to court records, witnesses said that a man walked up behind Elijah al-Amin and stabbed him in the neck without saying a word. Witnesses told police that Mr al-Amin had done nothing to provoke the attack outside a shop in Peoria, near Phoenix, Arizona at around 1.30am local time on Thursday.
Police said that someone was trying to help Mr al-Amin by applying pressure to his neck when they arrived at 1.42am. Police stopped Adams as he walked away from the shop. They said he had blood on his left forearm, hand and foot and a pocket knife was found on his person. He was taken into custody.
According to the police report, Mr Adams told a detective that Mr al-Amin did not do anything threatening but that the youth had been listening to rap music in his car.
“Adams stated rap music makes him feel unsafe, because in the past he has been attacked by people (Blacks, Hispanics, and Native American) who listen to rap music,” the statement said.
“Adams further stated, people who listen to rap music are a threat to him and the community,” the report said.
Mr Adams, who is white, told police that he felt threatened by the music, not by Al-Amin. Adams is white, and Al-Amin was black, white and Latino, according to his mother.
“Adams felt he needed to be ‘Proactive rather than reactive’ and protect himself and the community from the victim,” the statement added.
The attack happened just two days after Adams was released from prison, KPHO news reports. Jacie Cotterell, an attorney who represented Adams at an initial court hearing but no longer is his lawyer, told the outlet that he has a history of mental illness.
The Arizona Department of Corrections has disputed this, saying that Adams was not designated as seriously mentally ill and was released on an absolute discharge on 2 July.
A number of political figures have called for a thorough investigation, including Democrat 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker who called it a “hate crime”.
“Another one of our children has been murdered in a heinous and unprovoked way—the DOJ must investigate this hate crime immediately,” Mr Booker wrote tweeted on Monday. “RIP Elijah. #JusticeForElijah.”
Friends and family hugged at the Islamic Community Center in Tempe, where prayers for the teen were held on Monday before burial in Maricopa County.
Mr Adams’ next court appearance is scheduled for 15 July.