ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque city officials held a news conference Sunday to provide an update on the ongoing investigation into a string of killings of Muslim men dating back to 2021.
The slayings date back to November with three happening in the last week, including the latest on Friday, authorities said. Investigators say the victims’ race and religion were common elements. Police are trying to determine if they are linked.
The fourth victim, Naeem Hussain, was ambushed and shot – just like the other three victims.
The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has launched an online portal where people can submit anonymous tips relating to the killings.
Police say they are going to be ramping up patrols near mosques and Muslim-affiliated schools.
“We have members of our Muslim community who are afraid to participate in everyday activities. They should never be afraid to do things like shopping, things like praying, things like going to school,” Mayor Tim Keller said.
The killings have spread fear beyond New Mexico, where Muslims comprise less than 1% of adults in the statewide population of 2.1 million, according to Pew Research Center.
“The fact the suspect remains at large is terrifying,” Debbie Almontaser, a Muslim community leader in New York, wrote on Twitter. “Who is next?!”
In a phone interview, Almontaser said that a female friend who lives in Michigan and wears the hijab head covering shared with her over the weekend just how rattled she was. “She’s like, ‘This is so terrifying. I’m so scared. I travel alone,’” Almontaser said.
The city is offering assistance to anyone in the Muslim community who may be afraid to leave their home. Residents can contact 311 and they will bring groceries or hot meals.
Investigators did not say where the images were taken or what led them to suspect the car was involved in the slayings. Police spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos said in an email Monday that the agency has received tips regarding the car but did not elaborate.
“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.”
President Joe Biden said he was “angered and saddened” by the killings and that his administration “stands strongly with the Muslim community.”
“These hateful attacks have no place in America,” Biden said Sunday in a tweet.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.