A man has been arrested and charged with the murder of two Muslim men, Albuquerque police said Tuesday. Four Muslim men have been killed in the city since November, and authorities believe the suspect could potentially be charged for the other two killings.
Muhammed Syed, 51, has been identified as the “prime suspect in the recent murders of Muslim men”, police said on Tuesday, and charged with the murders of Aftab Hussein on July 26 and Muhammad Afzaal Hussian on August 1. Casings found at both scenes.
They are still investigating Syed’s possible involvement in the murders of Naeem Hussain on August 5 and Mohammed Zaher Ahmadi on November 7.
A council from the public led authorities to Syed. When they went to search his Albuquerque home, they say he fled in a Volkswagen Jetta, which authorities had previously told the public they were looking for in connection with the murders.
They eventually took Syed into custody near Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Authorities also searched his home, where they say they found several firearms, including the one believed to have been used in the two murders he is accused of.
Syed appears to have known his victims, police and the FBI said.
Police Chief Harold Medina first shared news of an arrest on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.
“We have located the vehicle suspected of being involved in the recent murder of a Muslim in Albuquerque,” Medina said. wrote. “The driver has been arrested and is our prime suspect in the murders.”
Police said Saturday they were looking for a dark-colored four-door Volkswagen, possibly a Jetta or Passat, with tinted windows and possible damage.
Mayor Tim Keller said police believe the vehicle was used in the Friday night killing.
“We learned about what happened, we have leads,” Keller told reporters on Sunday. “We have a solid lead, a vehicle of interest. We don’t know what it’s associated with or who it belongs to.”
The series of murders has shaken the Muslim community of Albuquerque. Police said on Sunday it was too early to know whether the killings would be classified as hate crimes.
On Saturday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announcement a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
In a statement on Tuesday, CAIR thanked law enforcement for the arrest and wrote that it hoped “news of the end of this violence will bring the Muslim community of New Mexico a sense of relief. and safety”.
“While we await further information on these crimes, we are troubled by early indications that the alleged killer may have targeted specific members of the Shia community,” the statement said. “If this is true, it is completely unacceptable, and we encourage law enforcement to file any appropriate hate crime charges against the suspect.”
Law enforcement officials have not confirmed any specific motive for the killings.