‘People are beginning to panic’: Fourth Muslim man killed Friday night - Albuquerque Journal

‘People are beginning to panic’: Fourth Muslim man killed Friday night

A crime scene investigator documents the scene at Truman and Grand NE, where police say a Muslim man was killed just before midnight Friday. It was the fourth homicide that police say may be connected. (Liam DeBonis/Albuquerque Journal)

On Friday afternoon, Naeem Hussain attended the funeral service for two Muslim men who were killed in the past two weeks. He joined other mourners afterward, sharing a meal, at the Islamic Center of New Mexico. Then he left.

Several hours later, a little before midnight, Naeem Hussain was shot to death in a parking lot of an organization that offers services for refugees and asylum seekers near San Mateo and Copper NE, according to the Islamic Center’s spokesman.

Naeem Hussain (Courtesy of Tahir Gauba)

His death was the latest in what police suspect is a string of homicides targeting Muslim men based on their race and religion.

“Now, people are beginning to panic,” said Tahir Gauba, the director of public affairs with the Islamic Center of New Mexico, who added that he had been fielding phone calls all day about the death.

The two men who were buried Friday — 41-year-old Aftab Hussein and 27-year-old Muhammad Afzaal Hussain — were shot near their homes on July 26 and Aug. 1, respectively. Police say they were ambushed.

On Saturday, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesman said the recent homicides have led detectives to try to determine whether the Nov. 7 fatal shooting of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, is also related. Ahmadi was killed behind a halal market he owned with his brother. An APD official had previously said that there was a “strong possibility” that all three of the prior homicides were related.

Gauba said the Muslim community — especially the student population who live near the area where two most recent shootings happened — is feeling very afraid. He said Naeem Hussain is from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Right now it is really tough to deal with it,” Gauba said. “I mean especially right after the funeral, the same day, that thing happened again. So it’s just really crazy.”

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina addresses the media during a news conference about four homicides of Muslim men that police believe may be connected. The fourth happened late Friday night. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

Every possible resource

At a hastily-convened news conference at APD headquarters Saturday afternoon, leaders from local law enforcement and the city denounced the violence and assured the community that they are working together and devoting every possible resource to the investigation.

Translators speaking Arabic, Farsi, Dari and Urdu translated remarks from the city’s Office of Equity and Inclusion.

“We urge our entire interfaith community of Albuquerque and all the people of Albuquerque to help law enforcement identify and catch the person or persons responsible,” said Michelle Melendez, the office’s director. “Please, please, call with any bit of information.”

Police Chief Harold Medina — who addressed reporters via zoom because he is in isolation with COVID-19 — said the department is working closely with the FBI. The New Mexico State Police, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service are also assisting.

“On top of our investigations into this murder, we’re devoting resources to key patrol areas and neighborhoods within Albuquerque,” Medina said. “We lifted overtime caps for our officers so that we could utilize several of our specialized units to help ensure the strong presence of Albuquerque officers to keep the community safe.”

Deputy Chief Josh Brown, with APD’s Field Services Bureau, said the department consulted with its partners in the Muslim community to determine what they need and where they’re most vulnerable when deciding where to put its resources.

“We’re going to have multiple command posts stationed throughout key areas in the city,” Brown said. “This will allow people who … if they see something, and don’t have immediate access to phone or communication to stop by, drop off tips, talk to law enforcement officers who are there and available in the area.”

On Saturday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she will send additional State Police to Albuquerque to patrol and work with APD and the FBI.

“I am angered and saddened that this is happening in New Mexico, a place that prides itself on diversity of culture and thought. This is not who we are,” Lujan Grisham said. “We will not stop in our pursuit of justice for the victims and their families and are bringing every resource to bear to apprehend the killer or killers — and we WILL find them.”

APD has increased the priority for calls involving the Muslim community, Medina said, and he urged Muslims to be especially vigilant and watch out for one another.

“Let individuals know when you’re coming in and out, make it very obvious that others are watching when you’re leaving your car to your house…,” Medina said. “I think it’s important to let everybody know that we’re all watching out for one another.”

Raul Bujanda, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Albuquerque office, spoke about the agencies cooperation with APD in finding the person police believe is killing Muslim men. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

‘A really kind person’

By mid-day Saturday the intersection of Truman and Grand NE was quiet.

The only sign of the overnight violence that remained was shattered glass from Naeem Hussain’s car windows in the parking lot of Lutheran Family Services.

A friend of Naeem Hussain told the Journal she met him about six years ago through the organization. She said he used to work with the program and had a meeting there Friday night.

She said she had been told that Naeem Hussain, who police say was in his mid-20s, became a U.S. citizen just two weeks ago.

“He was a really kind person and no reason for someone to kill him like this,” she said. “It’s just unexpected, what happened. This is really heartbreaking for the families.”

Gauba, with the Islamic Center of New Mexico, said Naeem Hussain was on the phone with his fiancée, who lives in Virginia, when he was shot.

“She heard the gunshot I think and she freaked out,” Gauba said. “So he didn’t respond after that, so she called one of his friends. His friend went over there and his friend is the one who called 911.”

Home » ABQnews Seeker » ‘People are beginning to panic’: Fourth Muslim man killed Friday night

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

No limit: Channel Tres brings tour to Electric Playhouse
ABQnews Seeker
The creative process is one that ... The creative process is one that intrigues Channel Tres. 'I'm always creating and making sure family is good,' he says. 'Creating and writing is ...
APD investigating fatal stabbing
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque police are investigating a fatal ... Albuquerque police are investigating a fatal stabbing on Sunday afternoon. Officers were called to the area of Kathryn and Maderia SE on a reported ...
Gov. pledges $1.1M for film school, studio in Raton
ABQnews Seeker
The film industry continues to grow ... The film industry continues to grow in New Mexico. It's always been a goal to have film facilities in every point of the state. ...
Longer sentences have failed to reduce violent crime
ABQnews Seeker
Spiro Agnew, who served as vice ... Spiro Agnew, who served as vice president under Richard Nixon, memorably denounced the administration's enemies for their 'pusillanimous pussyfooting on the critical issue of ...
Outdoor rec projects receive $2M+ in state funding
ABQnews Seeker
The New Mexico Economic Development Department's ... The New Mexico Economic Development Department's Outdoor Recreation Division handed out more than $2 million to 20 projects statewide through its Outdoor Recreation Trails+ ...
Rain or shine, students fight for normalcy
ABQnews Seeker
Homecoming returns after years of pandemic ... Homecoming returns after years of pandemic impacts
NM to be part of 'clean freight corridor'
ABQnews Seeker
Hydrogen network could power trucks throughout ... Hydrogen network could power trucks throughout Southwest
Judge was a 'very generous and caring person'
ABQnews Seeker
Friends and colleagues describe Judge James ... Friends and colleagues describe Judge James A. Parker as a gentleman
Climate-fueled wildfires worsen dangers for struggling fish
ABQnews Seeker
A summer-long mission comes to a ... A summer-long mission comes to a quick end as cutthroat trout rescued earlier this year are released into new digs