Muhammed Syed, 51, was arrested in Santa Rosa for at least two of the four murders of Muslim men in Albuquerque. He is facing charges in the deaths of Muhammed Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, both from Pakistan. They were killed July 26 and Aug. 1, respectively.
Police Chief Harold Medina said Albuquerque Police Department is working with the district attorney on potential charges for the other two victims: Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, from Afghanistan, who was the first victim on Nov. 7, 2021, and Naeem Hussain, 25, of Pakistan, who was killed Friday.
“This has been a tough week for our community,” Medina said. “But we all pitched in to solve these crimes and protect a community that felt like it was under attack. We came together, like we always do in Albuquerque.”
He also thanked all of the departments that worked together to make the arrest and said that APD will continue to be visible in the Muslim community to ensure people feel safe and can get back to their normal lives.
Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock said him team, along with ATF, were able to match the casings used at the two murder scenes at Rhode Island and Cornell SE. He also said that the plea for assistance to the public helped tremendously in locating the suspect’s vehicle. He said there were hundreds of tips that were reviewed, which ultimately led to a search warrant being issued for the Syed’s residence at Carlisle and Gibson SE.
Detectives collected evidence that suggest Syed, from Afghanistan, knew the victims “to some extent” and that an interpersonal conflict may have led to the murders. They also observed Syed packing up his vehicle, a Volkswagen Jetta that had previously been connected to the murders, to leave town and followed him. With the help of the FBI, APD was able to detain him as he was leaving Santa Rosa. Additionally, multiple firearms were confiscated from his home and are currently being tested, Hartsock said. One of the guns found during the search of Syed’s home matches casings found at the scenes of the murders he currently faces charges for.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said this is the kind of work and collaboration that yield real results. She also thanked the public and said without tips and information from the public, the city would not be making this announcement.
U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury said these losses are felt deeply in the community, but especially for her as one of the victims, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, was a friend and former staffer.
“Muhammad was kind, hopeful, optimistic; a city planner who believed in democracy and social change. And believed we could build a brighter future for communities and our world,” Stansbury said. She wanted to reiterate her thanks to law enforcement for their rapid and diligent response.
“We would be remiss if we did not address the national profile that these tragedies have garnered across the United States and the terror that has not only gripped our Muslim community but Muslim communities across the U.S.,” she said.
Mayor Tim Keller said that this is not reflective of the city of Albuquerque or the city’s long-standing commitment to inclusion for diversity and to justice.
“Truly what we experienced from law enforcement and the support front is the ‘One Albuquerque’ spirit spreading from our city to our state and our federal partners across the country,” Keller said. “Going forward we are going to build on the progress we’ve made — and we have to formalize what we’re doing with our Asian and Muslim communities going forward. Thank you to all those involved, and our prayers are absolutely with the community this evening.
“Tonight, it is our hope that as we continue to mourn the loss of loved ones, a sense of safety and the first steps to closure can be found knowing that the likely perpetrator is in custody and being charged,” Keller added in an emailed statement. “These terrible killings have shaken our community, and we cannot know the deep grief that the families of the victims still face in the chapter ahead, but we can be here for them. Tomorrow, we will continue to make any support available that our Muslim community needs now, we will continue to open our hearts to all who are in need, and we will continue forward as one city united.”