"Over the past nine months, police say, three Muslim men were shot to death — without warning — around the city. And now investigators are saying they believe there is a strong possibility the same person — or persons — is responsible." —Elise Kaplan
Three innocent men have been killed, and investigators believe each attack was intentionally directed towards members of the Muslim community.
"The most recent homicide — that of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27 — galvanized a community that remembered him as a vibrant student leader, dedicated planning and land use director for the city of Española and field organizer with Melanie Stansbury campaign for congress. The shooting came six days after another man, 41-year-old Aftab Hussein, was killed in his apartment complex parking lot less than five miles away. The first shooting, that of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, happened last November behind the Ariana Halal Market & Cafe he owned with his brother." —Elise Kaplan
Since detectives believe each victim was ambushed, Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock suspects the shooter was "laying in wait." That being said, they cannot yet claim that these murders were hate crimes.
“We’ve reached out to the FBI immediately and they’ve already committed to give what resources they can...We can’t call it a thing until we have someone identified and really know what their intention is in doing this. And we don’t know enough yet to clearly say that — but that could change.” —Kyle Hartsock
Hartsock is under the impression that there is likely someone who either knows the killer directly or has noticed a change in behavior and can report their concerns to the police.
“My guess is someone out there either directly knows who did this and they can provide that information to police or they’ve noticed some behavior changes in someone around them that they think could possibly do this...Two of these murders have happened in (a) week. Whoever’s doing them, is changing up their lifestyle, their behavior, something is off more than usual.” —Kyle Hartsock
If this is true, Muslims residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico need to be extremely cautious right now, according to the defense attorney and president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico: Ahmad Assed.
“The community certainly is in need of understanding the egregiousness of the conduct displayed in all three of these shootings...If it’s true that we were targeted as Muslims then they need to be very vigilant in protecting themselves and taking measures of precaution. They need to watch out for their surroundings.” —Ahmad Assed
Police are asking anyone with information about this case to contact Crime Stoppers at 843-STOP.