Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are working to determine whether the murders of four Muslim men in the past nine months are related, the latest of which occurred Friday night.
In a news briefing Saturday afternoon with local and federal officials, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina revealed that a “young man who is part of the Muslim community was murdered.”
The victim’s name and the circumstances surrounding the crime were not immediately released. However, Medina said the killing is believed to be linked to the previous three, all of which have been described as ambush-style shootings.
“As with the previous three homicides we mentioned on Thursday, there is reason to believe that this death is related to those shootings,” Medina said.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, 27-year-old Muhammed Afzaal Hussain was shot and killed on August 1, while 41-year-old Aftab Hussein was killed on July 26. Both were from Pakistan and members of the same mosque.
These followed the November 2021 killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim man of South Asian descent. Ahmadi was killed behind a market and cafe he owned with his brother.
Authorities did not release any suspect information Saturday, nor would they confirm whether the killings were believed to be hate crimes.
“At this point, we don’t know,” Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallego told reporters.
The New Mexico State Police, the FBI and the US Marshals Service are among several agencies involved in the investigation into the murders. Medina said the overtime caps for officers have been lifted to allow the department to increase its patrols.
“I would like to assure those members of the Muslim community that we are devoted resources, but we also want them to be vigilant, look out for each other,” Medina said.
The governor, Albuquerque’s mayor and civil rights groups have raised concerns, saying violence against members of the community based on race or religion will not be tolerated.
“The community absolutely needs to understand the grossness of the behavior that was displayed in all three of these shootings,” Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, said at a news conference Thursday. “If it’s true that we were targeted as Muslims, then they need to be very vigilant to protect themselves and take precautions. They need to watch their surroundings.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also announced Saturday that it is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
“This tragedy affects not only the Muslim community — but all Americans,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement Saturday. “We must stand together against hate and violence regardless of the race, faith or background of the victims or the perpetrators. We encourage anyone with information about these crimes to come forward by contacting the police.”