Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are working to determine whether there is a connection to the murders of four Muslim men over the past nine months, the most recent one on Friday night.
In a Saturday afternoon news conference with local and federal officials, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina revealed that “a young man belonging to the Muslim community was murdered.”
The names of the victims and the circumstances of the crime were not immediately provided. However, Medina said the killing was believed to be linked to the first three incidents, all of which were described as ambush-style shootings.
“As with the first three murders we mentioned on Thursday, there is reason to believe that this death is related to those shootings,” Medina said.
Mohammad Afzal Hussein, 27, was shot dead on August 1, while Aftab Hussein, 41, was killed on July 26, the Albuquerque Journal reported. . Both are from Pakistan and belong to the same mosque.
These follow the November 2021 killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, a 62-year-old South Asian Muslim man. Ahmadi was killed behind a market and cafe he owned with his brother.
Authorities on Saturday did not release any suspect information or confirm whether the murder was considered a hate crime.
“At this point, we don’t know,” Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallego told reporters.
The New Mexico State Police, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service are among several agencies involved in investigating the killing. Medina said overtime caps for officers had been lifted to allow the department to increase patrols.
“I want to reassure those members of the Muslim community that we have invested our resources, but we also want them to be vigilant and watch out for each other,” Medina said.
The governor, Albuquerque mayor and civil rights groups have raised concerns that violence against community members based on race or religion will not be tolerated.
“The community certainly needs to understand the appalling behavior on display in all three of these shootings,” Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, said at a news conference Thursday. If we are indeed targeted by Muslims, then they need to be very vigilant to protect themselves and take precautions. They need to be aware of their surroundings.”