The police in Albuquerque are investigating the killings of three Muslim men that they say may be connected.
Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, two Pakistani men who attended the same mosque, were fatally shot within a week of each other, the police said. Mr. Hussain, who was killed on Monday, was the planning and land use director for the city of Española, about 90 miles north of Albuquerque. Mr. Hussein, slain on July 26, worked at a local cafe.
A third Muslim man was killed just before midnight Friday, according to the police. The identity and age of the latest victim has not been released, though the police said he was a “young man” and from South Asia.
The authorities said they believed the recent violence might also be connected to the November 2021 killing in Albuquerque of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim man from Afghanistan. Mr. Ahmadi was killed outside a business he and his brother ran on San Mateo Boulevard, the police said.
The authorities did not elaborate on why they thought the killings may be connected and did not say whether there were any witnesses to the homicides, but they said they believed the Muslim community was being targeted.
The Albuquerque Police Department, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, is asking city residents to come forward with any information that could be connected to the killings.
“This is something that impacts us all,” Raúl Torrez, the Bernalillo County district attorney, said at a news conference on Saturday. “Every member of this community has to stand up.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Twitter on Saturday that the killings were “deeply angering and wholly intolerable” and that she was sending more State Police officers to help the Albuquerque Police and the F.B.I. She also expressed solidarity with the Muslim community in the state.
“We stand with you,” she said.
Officials with the Islamic Center of New Mexico, still reeling from the Friday night funeral service for Mr. Hussain and Mr. Hussein, said they were shocked to learn of another death the next morning, and that the slayings have Muslims in the city fearing for their safety.
“We are incredibly sickened with the idea that someone has this much hate against innocent people,” said Ahmad Assed, the president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico. “We’re scared for our families, we’re scared for our children. And we are incredibly confused about why this is happening.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest nonprofit Muslim civil rights group in the country, said Friday that it would offer a $10,000 reward to anyone who could provide information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the killings.
“We’ve really never seen something like this, where there’s multiple similar murders that really seem connected,” said Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director for the council.
Nihad Awad, the national executive director of the council, said in an interview that the tragedies affected not only the Muslim community but all Americans. “We must be united against hate and violence regardless of the race, faith or background of the victims or the perpetrators,” he said. “We urge anyone with information about these crimes to come forward by contacting law enforcement.”
Amid the shock, outrage and anxiety, those who knew the victims also expressed their grief and paid tribute on Saturday.
Erika Roberts, who went to graduate school with Mr. Hussain at the University of New Mexico, remembered her classmate as always having a smile on his face.
“Muhammad was friendly and enthusiastic about everything he did,” she said. “I was impressed that coming from Pakistan, he dedicated himself to making our communities in New Mexico better, safer and more compassionate.”
She added: “He always had a kind word to say. Nothing bitter ever came from him.”
Read Nore:Killings of Three Muslim Men in Albuquerque May Be Linked, Police Say