Officials are trying to determine whether the killings of four Muslim men, including one in Albuquerque overnight, are linked.
Albuquerque police said three murders occurred in the past two weeks and one in early November. All four victims are Muslim men from South Asia.
Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said at a news conference Saturday that Friday’s shooting took place just before midnight on the edge of the community known as the International District, southeast of the city.
Police said the victim is a man in his mid-20s whose identity has not been confirmed.
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said, “With the last three murders we mentioned on Thursday, there is reason to believe that this death is related to those shootings.”
Police have refrained from saying that the killings were motivated by hatred. “We don’t know that at this point,” Gallegos said.
Local, county and federal officials have joined the investigation and patrols have been increased in key areas of the city.
On Saturday evening, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said she was sending additional state police to the city to help bring the person or people to justice.
“The targeted killings of Muslim residents of Albuquerque are extremely outrageous and completely unbearable,” he said in a tweet.
Two other recent attacks include the July 26 killing of Aftab Hussain, 41, a Pakistani immigrant; and the murder of 27-year-old Muhammad Afzal Hussain near the University of New Mexico on Monday.
John Ramon Vigil, mayor of nearby Espaola, said Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the university, was the city planning and land use director.
“Tuesday will mark his first anniversary of leading the city planning team,” Vigil said in a statement this week. “Our city employees have lost a member of our family, and we have all lost a brilliant public servant who wanted to serve and improve his community.”
The Albuquerque Police Department clarified in its statement on Saturday that it is trying to find out whether the November 7 attack of a Muslim man in Afghanistan is related to others.
In that attack, police said the body of 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi was found with his brother in a parking lot behind a halal meat market.
At a press conference on Thursday, police alerted the Muslim community to the killings so far and asked the public for assistance in tracking down the killers or killers.
“We seek the public’s help in identifying this cowardly man who in all three cases ambushes, opened fire and killed his victims without warning,” Albuquerque police deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock said on Thursday.
On Saturday, police noted that the latest attack is believed to be linked to the spree that followed that widely covered news conference.
“Right now it’s a dangerous death that joins others as far as we can tell,” Gallegos said on Saturday. “It’s amazing that this happened so soon after I spoke on Thursday.”
Albuquerque Crime Stoppers offered a reward of $15,000 for the information, allowing anyone to be arrested and convicted.
The National Council on American-Islamic Relations has offered an additional $10,000. The organization called on President Joe Biden’s administration to take a “direct role” in the investigation.
“The lives of Albuquerque Muslims are at risk,” Edward Ahmed Mitchell, CAIR’s national deputy director, said in a statement on Saturday. “Whoever is responsible for this horrific, disgusting shooting spree must be recognized and stopped – right now.”
“This is not the New Mexico I grew up in, love and cherish,” Ahmed Assad, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, told a news conference Saturday.
He thanked law enforcement for its response and said, “We will defeat evil and hate together.”
While officials declined to say whether victims were targeted for their religion or ethnic background, the city’s equity and inclusion director Michelle Melendez raised the possibility at a Saturday news conference.
“We cannot strongly condemn that people are being targeted because of their caste and religion,” he said.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also involved in the investigation.