Authorities in New Mexico are investigating whether four separate ambush-style murders of Muslim men that have taken place over the past year are connected, and are searching for a ‘vehicle of interest.’
‘We have a very, very strong link,’ Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said Sunday. ‘We have a vehicle of interest…We have got to find this vehicle.’
While police have provided few details on the latest murder, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham described the deaths as ‘targeted killings of Muslim residents.’
Albuquerque police are looking for a metallic charcoal or dark gray Volkswagen Jetta from central New Mexico. A flyer asking for information about the car says it’s been seen near ‘recent homicide of four Muslim men.’
Authorities said do not know who owns or drives the car, or where it’s registered.
Naeem Hussain, who was Muslim and South Asian, was killed Friday night after attending a funeral service for two of the other men killed in the string of attacks. Two other men, Muhammed Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, were both killed in ambush shootings within the past week.
The two men were both from Pakistan and members of the same mosque, police said.
The third case involves the November killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim man of South Asian descent who was shot in the same way.
Police have not confirmed whether the latest killed was carried out in a similar fashion to the other deaths that they’re investigating.
As many as 5,000 Muslim people live in Albuquerque, the state’s largest city. Authorities have stopped short of calling the string of shootings hate crimes, as they have yet to identify a suspect or motive.
In a statement to Twitter, New Mexico’s governor said she has deployed additional state police to help the investigation.
‘The targeted killings of Muslim residents of Albuquerque is deeply angering and wholly intolerable,’ Lujan Grisham said.
‘We will continue to do everything we can to support to the Muslim community of Albuquerque and greater New Mexico during this difficult time.’
On Sunday, President Joe Biden expressed outrage over the possibility of the killings be related to the victims’ religious beliefs.
‘I am angered and saddened by the horrific killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque,’ he tweeted. ‘While we await a full investigation, my prayers are with the victims’ families, and my Administration stands strongly with the Muslim community.’
‘These hateful attacks have no place in America,’ he added.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico state police, the FBI and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are all investigating.
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