The ambush-style shootings of three Muslim males and the current homicide of a fourth in Albuquerque have alarmed the town’s Muslim group and triggered warnings for mosque-goers as police examine how the shootings could also be linked.
The murders of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, Aftab Hussein, 41, and Naeem Hussain, 25, have one factor in widespread: All of the victims had been Muslim and of South Asian descent, in response to police. from Albuquerque.
The three most up-to-date slayings occurred throughout the span of two weeks, placing the town on edge as police investigated attainable hyperlinks between the assaults and highlighted an unsolved murder from November 2021.
“Whereas we’re nonetheless reviewing all proof for additional connections, it’s deeply regarding that these three males had been Muslim and of comparable descent,” Albuquerque Police Division Legal Investigations Division Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock mentioned.
The FBI is aiding with the investigation, and a online portal was created for residents to add movies and pictures that would assist authorities examine the murders. The native Board of Crime Stoppers additionally voted to extend the reward for info resulting in an arrest to $20,000.
Police haven’t launched any description of a suspect or suspects within the killings. Nevertheless, they’ve mentioned that they’re in search of “a vehicle of interest”, which can be associated to the 4 murders. The automobile is a darkish silver Volkswagen Jetta or Passat sedan type with tinted home windows.
This is what we all know concerning the murders and the investigation up to now:
The latest of the killings was reported Friday, when Naeem Hussain was discovered lifeless by Albuquerque law enforcement officials responding to stories of a taking pictures simply earlier than midnight within the space of Truman Avenue and Grand Avenue.
After the invention, Albuquerque police mentioned the murder “could also be linked” to a few earlier murders of South Asian Muslim males.
These three males, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, Aftab Hussein and Mohammad Ahmadi, had been “ambushed with out warning, shot and killed,” Hartsock mentioned earlier.
Two of them, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain and Aftab Hussein, had been Pakistani males and had been killed in southeast Albuquerque, close to Central Avenue. Police mentioned they “decided there’s a connection” between these two deaths.
Muhammad Afzaal Hussain was shot lifeless on August 1. He was discovered on a sidewalk within the space of Cornell Avenue and Lead Avenue.
Simply days earlier, on July 26, Aftab Hussein was discovered with obvious gunshot wounds within the 400 block of Rhode Island. He later died because of his accidents, police mentioned.
As investigators investigated the current killings, they turned their consideration to the November 7, 2021, killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, a Muslim man from Afghanistan who was killed exterior a enterprise he ran together with his brother on San Mateo Boulevard.
Naeem Hussain emigrated as a refugee from Pakistan in 2016, fleeing persecution as a Shiite Muslim, and had simply change into a US citizen final month, in response to his brother-in-law, Ehsan Shahalami.
He opened his personal trucking enterprise this yr and was described as a sort, beneficiant and hard-working individual.
On the day he was killed, he had attended the funeral of the 2 current victims and expressed concern concerning the shootings, in response to a spokesman for a mosque in Albuquerque.
Muhammad Afzaal Hussain labored on the planning staff for the town of Española. He had studied regulation and human useful resource administration on the College of Punjab in Pakistan earlier than receiving a grasp’s diploma and a bachelor’s diploma in group and regional planning from the College of New Mexico, in response to a information launch from the mayor.
“Muhammad was soft-spoken and sort, and fast to giggle,” Mayor John Ramon Vigil mentioned in a press launch final Wednesday. “He was properly revered and cherished by his co-workers and members of the group.”
Few particulars concerning the different two victims have been launched. Police mentioned Mohammad Ahmadi was a Muslim from Afghanistan and Aftab Hussein was a Muslim from Pakistan.
To date, the police have posted a flyer exhibiting a “vehicle of interest” in all 4 murders. However it’s unclear who the automotive belongs to or how they’re doubtlessly related to the assaults.
Police mentioned the automobile “is suspected of getting used as a way of transportation within the current killings of 4 Muslim males.”
“We have now a really, very sturdy lead. We have now a automobile of curiosity… we have to discover this automobile,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller mentioned. “We do not know at the moment what it is related to or who owns it.”
Whereas police haven’t definitively mentioned the 4 assaults are related, they’ve mentioned they’re investigating whether or not that’s the case.
“There’s a sturdy level in widespread in all of the victims; race and faith,” Hartsock mentioned at a briefing Thursday.
Authorities are asking the general public to come back ahead with any info that will assist the investigation. Ideas might be submitted to the Albuquerque Metro CrimeStoppers web site.
After Friday’s killing, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham introduced Saturday that she is sending extra state troopers to Albuquerque.
“I’m indignant and saddened that that is occurring in New Mexico, a spot that prides itself on variety of tradition and thought. This isn’t who we’re,” Grisham mentioned in an announcement. “We is not going to cease in our pursuit of justice for the victims and their households and we’re utilizing all assets to cease the killer or killers, and we’ll discover them.”
The assaults have additionally drawn condemnation from President Joe Biden, who mentioned he was “indignant and saddened” by the assaults.
“As we await a full investigation, my prayers are with the households of the victims and my administration stands firmly with the Muslim group,” Biden wrote on Twitter.
Town is now rising police presence at mosques, Muslim-affiliated colleges and the College of New Mexico.
“Albuquerque is on edge proper now, and I need to make it clear that we, and our companions in regulation enforcement, are directing each useful resource attainable to those circumstances. We’ll shield our group and convey the perpetrator of those crimes to justice. We unequivocally denounce these mindless killings and stand with our Muslim group in opposition to intolerance and violence in all its types,” Keller mentioned.
“We have now heard from the group that the concern is so sturdy, that there’s a concern even about issues like shopping for groceries and getting meals for sure folks in sure areas of the town,” Keller mentioned at a weekend briefing. “Our division of senior affairs and our division of group security will present meals for so long as we’d like them, to anybody in want of a meal who’s affected by this tragedy.”
In the meantime, native and nationwide Muslim teams have been warning residents to be cautious.
“We urge everybody to take precautions and pay attention to their environment, together with ensuring they do not observe you dwelling and to keep away from strolling alone at night time,” the Islamic Middle of New Mexico posted on Fb. “That is very true for our members who dwell within the southeastern a part of the town the place these murders occurred.”
The middle mentioned that whereas there is no such thing as a proof that its mosque is below assault, it’s nonetheless taking steps to supply further safety measures.
“The lives of Muslims in Albuquerque are at risk. Whoever is liable for this horrific and hateful wave of taking pictures have to be recognized and stopped, now,” mentioned Edward Ahmed Mitchell, deputy nationwide director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The council is providing a $10,000 reward for info resulting in the arrest and conviction of these accountable, the group introduced, calling the sequence of killings a “horrible and hateful wave of shootings.”