Police arrest a suspect in the slayings of four Muslim men in New Mexico

By: - August 9, 2022 6:17 pm

Attorney Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, speaks at a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 9, about the arrest of Muhammad Syed, who is suspected of killing four Muslim men in Albuquerque. (Photo by Gino Gutierrez for Source NM)

Muhammad Syed is facing homicide charges for two men killed in recent weeks in Albuquerque, and he is being investigated in two additional shooting deaths. The killings sparked widespread fear of targeted violence against the Muslim community. 

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Law enforcement said Syed knew the victims, and an “interpersonal conflict may have led to the shooting,” during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Officials did not disclose details of the relationships Syed had with the four men before they were killed, and they did not answer questions about the nature of the conflict.

Syed is charged with killing Aftab Hussein on July 26 and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain on Aug. 1. Investigations into the deaths of Naeem Hussain on Friday and Mohammad Zaher Ahmadi in November are ongoing, police said.

Syed, 51, was driving the Volkswagen Jetta featured in a flyer police had been circulating when officers saw him leaving his house on Monday.

Details about the vehicle were released Sunday by law enforcement and shared widely by a fearful public wondering why someone was targeting Muslim people. Three of the men were slain in the last two weeks. 

Ultimately, a member of the public helped police find Syed by identifying his vehicle and reporting it, according to officials. Police combed through hundreds of tips, they said, eventually spotting the one that led to the Syed’s home.

They followed Syed from his home near Carlisle and Gibson on Monday as he headed more than 120 miles east on Interstate 40 toward Santa Rosa, N.M. He was arrested off the interstate near Exit 277, according to a Santa Rosa Police dispatcher and an employee at a nearby gas station.

Witnesses told Source NM that they heard a dispatch about the suspect in the high-profile killings being detained and shot with a beanbag round by police.

A gun associated with one of the shootings was found in his car, officials said, and police did not know he had a weapon in his vehicle as he was tracked from Albuquerque to Santa Rosa. 

While he was being pursued and arrested, police searched the house he’d left in Albuquerque and found another weapon they said was used in another shooting. 

Albuquerque police said they are working with the District Attorney’s Office to determine how to proceed with charges in the other two shootings.

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Shaun Griswold
Shaun Griswold

Shaun Griswold is a journalist in Albuquerque. He is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, and his ancestry also includes Jemez and Zuni on the maternal side of his family. He grew up in Albuquerque and Gallup. He brings a decade of print and broadcast news experience. Most recently he covered Indigenous affairs with New Mexico In Depth. Shaun reports on issues important to Native Americans in urban and tribal communities throughout the state, including education and child welfare.