Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are working to determine if the murders of four Muslim men over the past nine months are connected, the last of which took place Friday night.
At a Saturday afternoon press conference with local and federal officials, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina revealed that a “young man from the Muslim community was murdered.”
The name of the victim and the circumstances of the crime were not immediately communicated. However, Medina said the killing would be linked to the previous three, all of which were described as ambush-style shootings.
“As with the previous three murders we reported on Thursday, there is reason to believe this death is related to these shootings,” Medina said.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, Muhammed Afzaal Hussain, 27, was shot and killed on August 1, while Aftab Hussein, 41, was killed on July 26. Both were from Pakistan and members of the same mosque.
These followed the November 2021 murder of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim of South Asian descent. Ahmadi was killed behind a market and a cafe he owned with his brother.
Authorities released no information on the suspects on Saturday, nor did they confirm whether the killings were considered 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 of the murders. Medina said overtime caps for officers have been lifted to allow the department to increase patrols.
“I would like to assure these members of the Muslim community that we are dedicated resources, but we would also like them to remain vigilant, to look out for each other,” Medina said.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham tweeted Saturday night that she was deploying additional state troopers to Albuquerque to help with the investigation.
“The targeted killings of Muslim residents of Albuquerque are deeply irritating and utterly intolerable,” Grisham wrote. “I am sending additional state troopers to Albuquerque to work in close coordination with the ODA and FBI to bring the killer(s) to justice – and they WILL be found.”
Grisham, Albuquerque’s mayor and civil rights groups have raised concerns, saying violence against community members based on race or religion will not be tolerated.
“The community certainly needs to understand the seriousness of the conduct displayed in these three shootings,” Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, said at a news conference Thursday. “If it is true that we were targeted as Muslims, then they must be very vigilant to protect themselves and take precautionary measures. They must be careful of their surroundings.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also announced on Saturday that it was offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
“This tragedy not only affects the Muslim community, but all Americans,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement Saturday. “We must stand united against hatred and violence, regardless of race, religion or origin of the victims or perpetrators. We urge anyone with information about these crimes to come forward by contacting law enforcement. ‘order.”