Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are working to determine whether the murders of four Muslim men over the past nine months are connected, the latest of which occurred Friday night.
At a news conference Saturday afternoon with local and federal officials, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina revealed that “a young man from the Muslim community was killed.”
The name of the victim and the circumstances of the crime were not immediately released. However, Medina said the killings are believed to be linked to the previous three killings, all of which have been described as ambush shootings.
“As in the three previous murders we reported on Thursday, there is reason to believe that this death is related to the shooting,” Medina said.
According to Albuquerque magazine, 27-year-old Muhammed Afzal Hussain was shot dead on August 1, while 41-year-old Aftab Hussain was killed on July 26. Both are from Pakistan and are members of the same mosque.
This came on the heels of the November 2021 killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim of South Asian descent. Ahmadi was killed behind a market and café he owned with his brother.
On Saturday, authorities did not release any suspicious information, nor would they confirm whether the killings were believed to have been hate crimes.
“At this point, we don’t know that,” Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallego told reporters.
The New Mexico State Police, the FBI, and the US Marshal Service are among the many agencies involved in investigating the killings. Medina said the overtime limit for officers has been raised to allow the department to increase its patrols.
“I would like to assure members of the Muslim community that we are dedicating our resources, but we also like that they remain vigilant, and attentive to each other,” Medina said.
The governor and mayor of Albuquerque and civil rights groups have raised concerns, saying that violence against members of the community based on race or religion will not be tolerated.
“Society certainly needs to understand the outrageous behavior that has been shown in all three theses shootings,” Ahmed Aseed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, said at a news conference Thursday. “If it is true that we have been targeted as Muslims, then they must be very vigilant in protecting themselves and taking precautionary measures. They need to be mindful of their surroundings.”