Two days after holding a press conference on the murders of three Muslim men over the past nine months, Albuquerque police returned on Saturday to address yet another.
Just before midnight Friday, Albuquerque police received word of the murder of yet another Muslim man, Police Chief Harold Medina told reporters. And authorities believe the four murders may be linked, he said.
Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, a 27-year-old local official in the city of Española, was shot dead outside his apartment on Monday. Six days earlier, 41-year-old Aftab Hussein was murdered in the parking lot of his apartment complex less than 8 kilometers away. Both reportedly went to the same mosque.
The first of the murders took place in November 2021, when 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi was shot dead outside a halal cafe.
An APD spokesperson said he could not provide details about the latest murder, but there was a “link” between the crime and the previous murders that led him to believe they could be linked. He added: “It is surprising that this happened so soon after we spoke on Thursday.”
Medina, the police chief, said the department was working with the FBI and the district attorney’s office to track down the killer or killers, and had increased patrols in high-priority neighborhoods. Police said they were unable to comment on any suspects at this time and that it was too early to say if they were looking for a serial killer.
Police previously said the first three men were ambushed by the attacker, who they say was “lurking” for his victims. In a press conference Thursday, the APD’s Kyle Hartsock declined to provide more details about the links between the cases, adding, “There is one strong similarity with the victims: race and religion.”
Medina on Saturday urged members of the Muslim community to “be vigilant” and report suspicious matters to the police.
“I cannot stress enough that public safety is our top priority during this investigation, and it starts with the safety of the Muslim community here in Albuquerque,” he said.
Members of the Muslim community also spoke at the press conference and urged state and national politicians to support local law enforcement officers in their work.
“Evil will not win, hate will not win,” said Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico. “We will defeat evil and hatred together.”