A man suspected of murdering at least two Muslim men in New Mexico in recent months has been arrested and allegedly assaulted the victims over an “interpersonal conflict,” authorities said Tuesday.
The suspect, Muhammad Syed, 51, was taken into custody Monday after a tipster contacted authorities, Albuquerque deputy police chief Kyle Hartsock told reporters.
Syed is charged with the July 26 and August 1 murders of Aftab Hussein, 41, and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, respectively, Hartsock said.
Syed is still a suspect in the Aug. 5 murder of Naeem Hussain, 25, and the Nov. 7 murder of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, but authorities are still investigating those cases, Hartsock said.
Hartsock declined to comment on a possible motive. In a press release, the department said the victims knew Syed “to some extent and that an interpersonal conflict” may have led to the shooting.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez said murder is expected in the case.
Earlier, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said: the suspect’s car was located and the driver was arrested.
Shortly after Medina’s statement, Mayor Tim Keller thanked local, state and federal law enforcement for their work on the case.
“We hope their swift action will bring a greater sense of security to so many who fear the recent shootings,” he said. Keller said in a statement:.
Law enforcement issued a warning on Sunday for an ‘interesting vehicle’, a gray or silver Volkswagen Jetta.
The latest deadly shooting happened just before midnight Friday on the outskirts of a community known as the International District, southeast of downtown, police said.
Naeem Hussain was identified as the victim.
Minutes after police announced this latest development, Hussain’s brother-in-law Ehsan Shahalami said he hopes this suspect is the only person responsible for the bloodshed.
“We are hopeful that this will be the end of this killing spree and that everyone else will be safe,” said Shahalami, 37, who lives in Virginia. “I hope it’s just one person, not several people.”
The first attack that could be related to the violence took place on 7 November. The body of Mohammad Ahmadi was found in a parking lot behind the halal meat trade he ran with his brother.
The other two murders were the murder of Pakistani immigrant Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain near the University of New Mexico, authorities said.
Muhammad Imtiaz Hussain, brother of victim Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, said he hopes life can return to normal with this arrest.
“I’m glad the suspect has been arrested,” the grieving sibling said. “We feel relieved. We can now take our children to parks. We can go shopping. We feel that fear longer.”
This is a story in development, please refresh here for updates.
Alicia Victoria Lozano and Dennis Romero contributed.