Police have arrested the “primary suspect” in the killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Muhammad Syed, a 51-year-old man from Afghanistan, was arrested on Monday night while he was heading east on Interstate 40. He was charged with the murders of two of the Muslim men, according to the Albuquerque police. Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27; Aftab Hussein, 41; and Naeem Hussain, 25, were all fatally shot within a span of two weeks from July 26 to Aug. 5. Investigations have since led authorities to revisit the homicide case of Mohammad Ahmadi, a 62-year-old man who was killed on San Mateo Boulevard on Nov. 7, 2021.
Authorities have been investigating links between the killings of the four Muslim and South Asian victims. Although Chief Harold Medina of the Albuquerque Police Department said that the separate killings cannot be labeled as either hate crimes or serial murders at the moment, investigators found Syed to be their “primary suspect for the murders.”
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
Syed drove a Volkswagen Jetta that investigators believe was the vehicle used in at least one of the killings. Police also said they recovered multiple firearms from his home.
“Detectives connected those homicides using bullet casings found at the scenes,” a police news release said. “The gun used in those shootings was discovered during the overnight search of [Syed’s] home.”
Syed bought a gun in July, and he bought a scope for the gun on the same day Muhammad Afzaal Hussain was killed, one of his sons revealed to investigators. Police also found evidence that Syed knew all four victims to some extent. They are currently investigating whether an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings.
The suspect was charged with the homicides of Aftab Hussein on July 26 and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain on Aug. 1. Detectives are still working on potential charges for the 2021 killing of Mohammad Ahmadi and the Aug. 5 killing of Naeem Hussain.
The murders have gained international attention, and a combined $30,000 reward was offered to any individual who could provide information that led to an arrest and conviction.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris denounced the killings by tweeting “hate has no place in America.”