Albuquerque police are asking the Muslim community to be ‘vigilant’ in the face of a series of murders

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina is once again urging the city’s Muslim community to be on their guard after another Muslim man was found dead on Saturday. He is the fourth to be killed in the New Mexico city in similar circumstances since November 2021.

Police say they have reason to believe the murders were allegedly committed by the same person or people. The most recent murder came just two days after the Albuquerque Police Department held a press conference with the FBI to announce the possible connection.

Although authorities declined to reveal specific evidence, they point to the fact that all of the victims shared a common race and religion.

“Our city suffered another tragic loss overnight. Another young man who was part of the Muslim community was murdered. As with the previous three murders we mentioned on Thursday, there is reason to believe this death is linked to these shootings,” Medina said at a Saturday afternoon news conference.

“We must ask the Muslim community in particular to be vigilant. Pay attention to each other. If you see something, say something,” he said.

The city was stepping up patrols in response to the violence. In addition to FBI assistance, officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the US Marshals Service are assisting in the investigation. Police are also consulting with leaders of the Albuquerque Islamic Center, they said.

When asked if he would say there was a serial killer on the loose, Gilbert Gallegos, the director of communications for the Albuquerque Police Department, said it was too early to use that phrase. Gallegos also could not yet say whether the killings qualified as hate crimes.

Police did not immediately release the name of the individual who died most recently, or how he died.

But they said on Thursday that the three previous killings were shots and the victims were ambushed.

From left to right: Aftab Hussein, 41; Mohammad Ahmadi, 62; Muhammadj Afzaal Hussain, 27 years old.

Albuquerque Crime Stoppers

Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, was shot in the head on November 7 and found in the parking lot of the grocery store and halal cafe he co-owned with his brother. The siblings had fled Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Aftab Hussein, 41, was also from Afghanistan and died of gunshot wounds on the evening of July 26. His colleagues at Flying Star, a local restaurant chain, told local news station KRQE that he was a “hard-working prankster with a heart of generosity” who once put all the tips he earned during two weeks in a donation jar for a colleague in need who planned to marry and build a life in New Mexico, his colleagues said.

Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, was shot in the head in the parking lot outside his building on August 1. He came to the United States from Pakistan in 2017 to earn his master’s degree in community planning from the University of New Mexico, the Albuquerque Revue reported. Two years later, Hussain was elected president of the Association of Graduate and Professional Students. At the time of his death, he was working in local government in the city of Española where colleagues called him a “rising star”, local news station KOB4 reported.

A spokesman for the Islamic Center of Albuquerque, Tahir Gauba, told the Santa Fe New Mexican, a local newspaper, that the killings had angered people.

“We have never felt so much fear in [our] community,” Gauba told the outlet. “I have never seen so much fear in my own family.”

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