"As Albuquerque police prepared to search the home of Muhammad Syed, they got an unexpected bonus: They saw the 51-year-old Afghan driving the Volkswagen Jetta they believed had been used in at least one of four killings of Muslim men in the state’s largest city. That opportunity, police officials said, led to the long-distance tracking — and eventually arrest — of Syed, charged Tuesday in the shooting deaths of two of the men. He also is a suspect in the deaths of the other two men." —Nathan Lederman
Syed has been charged with killing two Muslim men and is a suspect in the two other murders. The string of shootings seemingly targeted South Asian men of a specific religious group.
"In a Tuesday afternoon news conference, law enforcement officials said Syed was arrested in connection with the slayings of Aftab Hussein, 41, and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, who was an official with the city of Española. Police continue to investigate Syed’s potential ties to the deaths of 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi in November and Naeem Hussain, 25, who was shot to death Friday." —Nathan Lederman
The news circulated, gaining national and international attention and putting Albuquerque, New Mexico on the map for all of the wrong reasons.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris denounced these crimes targeting the Muslim community, stating that hatred has no place in America.
Police said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference that they have reason to believe Muhammad Syed is from Afghanistan and arrived in the United States five or six years ago. His court records indicate that he has been charged with numerous domestic violence and traffic misdemeanors in the city of Albuquerque, all of which have been dismissed.
"...police said they believe Syed is from Afghanistan and came to the United States about five or six years ago. Court records show he has been charged with multiple domestic violence and traffic misdemeanors in Albuquerque — all of them dismissed." —Nathan Lederman
Multiple firearms were found in Syed's house and one was discovered in his car. Two of these guns have been matched with two of the homicides.
"...multiple firearms were found at Syed’s home — and another was found in his car. Hartsock said the gun found in Syed’s car, and another found at his residence, were matched to the scenes of Hussein’s and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain’s murder." —Nathan Lederman
Authorities say Syed's motives were unclear, though some believe that he knew the victims to some extent and an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings.
That being said, the police have received some information concerning Syed's potential motives—He might have prejudice towards towards people who followed a different sect of Islam than his own.
At this time, police are still unsure of whether to label these homicides as hate crimes.
Despite the capture of Syed, the community is still grieving.
“Our community has lost brothers, fathers, husbands, uncles and beloved friends...Our communities have been bracing to respond to the potential of hate-driven crimes and the impacts of Islamophobia and other racist acts that have impacted our communities for far too long...We must continue to engage… in healing and to recognize that open lines of communication between our communities and law enforcement is what helped to put an end to these specific tragedies.” —Representative Melanie Stansbury
Ahmad Assed, the President of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, thanked police Tuesday for capturing Syed.
“I’m a big fan of [the] law enforcement today standing before you...I wanted to make an emphatic statement today about how thankful...[Albuquerque’s Muslim community is] for all the hard work.” —Ahmad Assed
He also said he was almost brought to tears by the support the Muslim community in Albuquerque, New Mexico received from law enforcement during this difficult time and he hopes that there is a conclusion to the case so that the families who have been affected can experience some semblance of closure.
"We hope and pray that things are brought to a conclusion, and there’s some closure for the families soon...We respect, certainly, the criminal justice system and the presumption of innocence … this is just the beginning.” —Ahmad Assed