Someone knows something. And we need them to speak up before another person is added to the recent string of deadly shootings targeting Muslims.
Albuquerque Police Department Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock says it’s almost always the public that provides the big tip identifying the suspect in such cases. “Whoever’s doing them is changing up their lifestyle, their behavior, something is off more than usual.”
Police on Sunday announced a possible break in the case. They’re asking for the public’s help in finding a dark gray or silver four-door Volkswagen Jetta or Passat with tinted windows. The sedan could have damage.
“We have got to find this vehicle,” says Mayor Tim Keller.
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 505-843-STOP, go to crimestoppersnm.com, or contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI. A moment’s delay could cost someone’s life. And there’s a combined reward of $30,000 for information leading to an arrest.
The announcement last week that officials believe one person could be responsible for fatally shooting four Muslim men in the city in the past nine months has shaken the Islamic community to the core. “Now, people are beginning to panic,” says Tahir Gauba, the director of public affairs with the Islamic Center of New Mexico.
And they have cause for great concern. APD Police Chief Harold Medina says members of the Muslim community should be especially vigilant and watch out for one another.
Law enforcement officials believe Naeem Hussain, 25; Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27; Aftab Hussein, 41; and Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, were all ambushed in a series of fatal shootings dating back to November.
Naeem Hussain — who became a U.S. citizen just weeks ago — was killed Friday night, several hours after he and more than a thousand mourners had gathered at the Islamic Center for the funerals of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain and Aftab Hussein, who had been shot and killed near their homes in the past two weeks.
“While we won’t go into all the specifics of why we think (the killings are linked), there’s one strong commonality in all victims: the race and religion,” Hartsock says.
It’s encouraging to see a swift and coordinated effort by law enforcement to solve these cases and protect the city’s Muslim community. APD has prudently adjusted officers’ shifts and schedules so there will be police presence at all mosques and places of prayer. APD is also parking two mobile investigative vans near the Islamic Center and Highland High School for people to provide tips about the case. The police department has also created a public portal where people can upload video or photos they think could be of assistance: https://albuquerquepdnm.evidence.com/axon/citizen/public/abq_homicide_tips.
Some city departments are even delivering groceries and hot meals to those too afraid to go out and run errands.
The mayor says APD is in close coordination with the District Attorney’s Office, the DA’s Office says it’s working with APD to provide any resources needed, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Sunday she’s sending additional State Police to Albuquerque to patrol and work with APD and the FBI.
Officials are right to throw every possible resource at what appear to be despicable hate-killings.
APD was quick to link the killings, even before Naeem Hussain’s on Friday night. While many have questions, it’s understandable law enforcement is keeping information close to the vest and ensuring the investigation is done right. Islamic Center president Ahmad Assed says he is confident investigators will solve the case.
The governor noted New Mexico is a state that prides itself on diversity and different cultures, adding she’s “incredibly angry” about the slayings. So are we, as is every New Mexican with no tolerance for hatred and violence.
If you know something, please, please say something to law enforcement to prevent any more killings and to bring justice for the victims and their loved ones.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.