Authorities are trying to determine if the killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, including one overnight, are related.
Three of the murders took place in the past two weeks and one took place in early November, Albuquerque police said. The four victims are Muslim men from South Asia.
Friday’s shooting was reported just before midnight on the edge of a community known as the International District, southeast of downtown, Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said during of a press conference on Saturday.
The victim is a man in his 20s whose identity has not been confirmed, police said.
“With the three previous murders we reported on Thursday, there is reason to believe this death is related to these shootings,” Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said.
The police refrained from saying that the killings were motivated by hate. “We don’t know at the moment,” Gallegos said.
Local, county and federal officials have joined the investigation, and patrols in key areas of the city have been stepped up.
On Saturday night, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said she was sending additional state police to the city to help bring the person or persons responsible to justice.
“The targeted killings of Muslim residents of Albuquerque are deeply shocking and completely intolerable,” she said in a statement. Tweeter.
The other two recent attacks have included the July 26 killing of Pakistani immigrant Aftab Hussein, 41; and the Monday assassination of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain27, near the University of New Mexico.
Mayor John Ramon Vigil of nearby Española said Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at university, was the city’s director of planning and land use.
“Tuesday would have marked his first anniversary as head of the city’s planning team,” Vigil said in a statement this week. “Our city staff lost a member of our family, and we all lost a brilliant public servant who wanted to serve and better his community.”
In its statement Saturday, the Albuquerque Police Department said it was trying to determine if the Nov. 7 attack on a Muslim man in Afghanistan was linked to the others.
During the attack, police said the body of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, was found in a parking lot behind the halal meat market he owned with his brother.
At a press conference on Thursday, police alerted the Muslim community to the killings to date and asked the public for help in tracking down the killer(s).
“We want the public’s help in identifying this cowardly individual who in all three instances ambushed his victims without warning, shot and killed them,” the Albuquerque Police Deputy Commander said. Kyle Hartsock said Thursday.
On Saturday, police noted that the latest attack believed to be linked to the spree occurred after that widely covered press conference.
“Right now it’s an alarming death that connects to others as far as we can tell,” Gallegos said on Saturday. “It’s surprising that this happened so soon after our conversation on Thursday.”
Albuquerque Crime Stoppers offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible.
The National Council on American-Islamic Relations offered an additional $10,000. The organization called on President Joe Biden’s administration to play a “direct role” in the investigation.
“The lives of Muslims in Albuquerque are at risk,” CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement on Saturday. “Anyone responsible for this horrific and heinous shooting must be identified and arrested – now.”
Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, said at the press conference on Saturday, “This is not the New Mexico I grew up in and love and cherish.”
He thanked law enforcement for their response and said, “We will overcome evil and hatred together.”
While authorities refrained from saying the victims were being targeted because of their religion or ethnicity, Michelle Melendez, the city’s director of equity and inclusion, raised the possibility during the conference. Saturday press release.
“We cannot speak out strongly enough against what appears to be the targeting of people because of their race and religion,” she said.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also involved in the investigation.