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A grand jury has indicted Muhammad Atif Syed on three counts of first-degree murder in a series of shootings that rattled Albuquerque's Muslim community and drew international media attention.
The grand jury indictment – made public Monday – added a third count of first-degree murder charging Syed in the Aug. 5 shooting death of Naeem Hussein, 25.
Syed, 51, had initially been arrested Aug. 9 on two open counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Aftab Hussein, 41, on July 26, and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, on Aug. 1.
A grand jury on Friday issued an indictment containing three counts of first-degree murder and four counts of tampering with evidence in connection with the three shooting deaths, 2nd Judicial District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Lauren Rodriguez said Monday.
Police and prosecutors say they are continuing their investigation into the Nov. 7, 2021, shooting death of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a fourth Muslim man Syed is suspected of killing.
“Our homicide detectives continue to work with prosecutors to ensure all victims receive justice in this tragic case,” Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina said Monday in a statement.
Ahmadi was killed behind a halal market he owned with his brother.
Syed was arrested while driving east on Interstate 40 toward Texas. A SWAT team searched his Southeast Albuquerque apartment and police say they found the gun that fired the bullets that killed Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain.
Rodriguez said an analysis of cellphone records provided key evidence to charge Syed with the third count of first-degree murder.
A district judge last week ordered Syed to remain in custody while he awaits trial.
Syed's attorneys did not immediately respond on Monday to messages seeking comment.
“In the time between the arrest warrant for the homicides of Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, and the convening of the Grand Jury Friday, additional evidence deriving from cellphones came to light enabling us to present the homicide of Naeem Hussain to the Grand Jury,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
Naeem Hussain was shot to death Aug. 5 after he attended funeral services at the Islamic Center of New Mexico for Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain.
APD investigators allege Syed shot Naeem Hussain as he sat in the driver's seat of his white 4-Runner in the parking lot of Lutheran Family Services in the 200 block of Truman NE.
Authorities say Syed followed Naeem Hussain in his Volkswagan Jetta from the Islamic Center of New Mexico after the funeral services.
Detectives also obtained surveillance video that showed a gray Jetta sedan fleeing the scene of Naeem Hussain's killing after the fatal shooting, police said.
APD released a photo of the Jetta on Aug. 8 and received tips that Syed owned the car.
After Syed's Aug. 9 arrest, detectives used bullet casings found at the scene of Naeem Hussain's shooting to link him to that killing, police said.
Ballistics tests showed that an AK-style rifle found in Syed's home and a 9mm pistol found in his car were linked to the killings of Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain.
Syed's son, Shaheen Syed, 21, faces federal charges for allegedly providing a false address when he bought a gun in June 2021. A federal magistrate last week ordered Shaheen Syed held in custody while he awaits trial. Federal prosecutors wrote in a motion to detain Shaheed Syed that cellphone records suggest he may have helped his father surveil Naeem Hussain the day of his shooting death. But no charges have been filed against Shaheen Syed in connection with any of the killings.
At Shaheen Syed's detention hearing, an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent testified that the father and son together went to an Albuquerque gun store to pick up two AK-style weapons that were both found in the Syed home.
One of those weapons, a 7.62-caliber rifle found under Muhammad Syed's bed, was shown by firearms testing to be the same used in the killings of Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, federal prosecutors allege.