New Mexico police detained a man they called their “primary suspect” in the slayings of several Muslim men in Albuquerque, officials said Tuesday.
“We tracked down the vehicle believed to be involved in a recent murder of a Muslim man in Albuquerque,” according to a statement by Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina. “The driver was detained and he is our primary suspect for the murders.”
Four Muslim men of South Asian descent have been killed since November, raising fears in that Albuquerque community.
Shortly after Medina’s statement, Mayor Tim Keller thanked local, state and federal law enforcement for their work on this case.
“We hope their swift action brings an increased sense of safety for so many who are experiencing fear from the recent shootings,” Keller said in a statement.
Police issued an alert Sunday for a “vehicle of interest,” a gray or silver Volkswagen Jetta.
The latest fatal shooting happened just before midnight Friday on the edge of a community known as the International District, southeast of downtown, police said.
The victim was identified as 25-year-old Naeem Hussain.
Minutes after police announced this latest development, Ehsan Shahalami, Hussain’s brother-in-law, said he hopes this suspect is the only person responsible for the bloodshed.
“We are hopeful that this is going to be the end to this murder spree and that everybody else will be safe,” said Shahalami, 37, who lives in Virginia. “I’m hoping that it’s just one person, not multiple people involved.”
The first attack that could be connected to the violence happened on Nov. 7. The body of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, was found in a parking lot behind the halal meat business he ran with his brother.
The two other homicides were the killing of Pakistani immigrant Aftab Hussein, 41, on July 26 and the Aug. 1 slaying of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, near the University of New Mexico, authorities said.
Muhammad Imtiaz Hussain, brother of victim Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, said he hopes life can go back to normal with this arrest.
“I’m glad the suspect was arrested,” the grieving sibling said. “We feel relieved. We can now take our kids to parks. We can go shopping. We now longer feel that fear.”
This is a developing story, please refresh here for updates.
Alicia Victoria Lozano and Dennis Romero contributed.