But later that night, another Muslim in the community became the latest victim in a string of murders authorities suspect may be linked.
Naeem Hussain had attended the funerals of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, on Friday before heading to the center for a meal after the service, Gauba said in a phone interview. Naaem Hussain, who was in his twenties, and the other two men were “regulars” at the center, Gauba said. (Although the men shared a common surname, they were unrelated, he said.)
Naeem Hussain was found dead shortly before midnight on Friday evening in the parking lot of Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, a non-profit organization that provides adoption and refugee services, after police responded to reports of a shooting. Police said his identity was not yet “positively confirmed”, but Gauba said he had spoken to Naeem Hussain’s family about his death.
Albuquerque police detectives have “determined there is a connection” between the two previous killings and suspect the latest “may be related,” police said in a statement. statement. Detectives are also investigating whether Mohammad Ahmadi’s killing in November outside a business he ran with his brother was online, police said. (Gauba said Ahmadi was not a regular member of the center.)
Naeem Hussain and Aftab Hussein were from Afghanistan but passed through Pakistan before coming to the United States, Gauba said. Muhammad Afzaal Hussain was from Pakistan and Ahmadi was from Afghanistan, police said.
Albuquerque police said the three previous murders were committed in the same manner – “ambushed without warning, shot and killed”, the Associated Press reported – but declined at a Saturday press conference to say whether Friday’s murder was the same.
The FBI office in Albuquerque is assisting the Albuquerque police in the investigation, said Frank Fisher, spokesman for the office.
Gauba said the string of deaths has been “horrible” for the community of around 5,000 Muslims in Albuquerque, a city of more than 560,000. “I’ve been in the United States since 1995,” Gauba said. “I lived through 9/11. I went through the Trump era. I have never felt so helpless and in fear.
“The lives of Muslims in Albuquerque are in danger,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, deputy national director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Anyone responsible for this horrific hate shooting must be identified and arrested – now.”
CAIR, which defends the civil rights of Muslims in the United States, said in a statement On Saturday he was offering $10,000 for information “leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.” The organization called on the Biden administration to “play a direct role” in the matter. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday night.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said “the targeted killings of Muslim residents of Albuquerque are deeply unnerving and completely intolerable.”
“I am angry and saddened that this is happening in New Mexico, a place that prides itself on diversity of culture and thought,” she said in a statement. “It’s not who we are.”
Lujan Grisham said on Twitter that she was sending State Police to assist Albuquerque Police and the FBI in the investigation “to bring the killer(s) to justice – and they WILL be found.” She addressed the local Muslim community: “You are New Mexicans, you are welcome here and we are on your side.