ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities investigating the killings of four Muslim men said they are looking for help finding a vehicle believed to be connected to the deaths in New Mexico’s largest city.
A Muslim man was killed Friday night in Albuquerque, and ambush shootings killed three other Muslim men over the past nine months. Police are trying to determine if the slayings are linked.
The common elements in all the deaths were the victims’ race and religion, Deputy Police Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock said.
Police said the same vehicle is suspected of being used in all four homicides — a dark gray or silver four-door Volkswagen that appears to be a Jetta with dark tinted windows. Authorities released photos hoping people could help identify the car.
Investigators did not say where the images were taken or what led them to suspect the car was involved in the slayings.
“We have a very, very strong link,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said Sunday. “We have a vehicle of interest … We have got to find this vehicle.”
President Joe Biden said he was “angered and saddened” by the killings and that his administration “stands strongly with the Muslim community.”
“These hateful attacks have no place in America,” Biden said Sunday in a tweet.
Police said Saturday that the victim in the latest killing was from South Asia and believed to be in his mid-20s.
The man, whose identity has not been confirmed by investigators, was found dead after police received a call of a shooting. Authorities declined to say whether the killing was carried out in a way similar to the other deaths.
Police confirmed last week that local detectives and federal law enforcement officers were looking for possible ties between the killings.
Two of the men — Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41 — were killed in the past week. Both were from Pakistan and members of the same mosque. The third case involves the November killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim man of South Asian descent.
Muhammad Afzaal Hussain had worked as a field organizer for a local congresswoman’s campaign.
Rep. Melanie Stansbury issued a statement praising the urban planner as “one of the kindest and hardest working people” she has ever known. She said he was “committed to making our public spaces work for every person and cleaning up legacy pollution.”
Authorities said they cannot determine if the shootings were hate crimes until they have identified a suspect and a motive.
“We will bring this person or these persons to justice,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Sunday.