‘Vehicle of interest’ sought in slayings of 4 Muslim men in New Mexico

'Vehicle of interest' sought in slayings of 4 Muslim men in New Mexico

Authorities said Sunday that they are seeking information on a “vehicle of interest” in connection with the slayings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico, since November.

Albuquerque Police Deputy Chief Cecily Barker said law enforcement is looking for a metallic charcoal or “dark gray” late-model Volkswagen Jetta from central New Mexico.

“We have a very very strong lead,” Mayor Tim Keller said, before introducing the deputy chief. “We have a vehicle of interest.”

A flyer from Albuquerque Metro Crime Stoppers asks for help from the public in identifying a car that authorities think may be linked to the shooting deaths of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, N.M.Albuquerque Metro Crime Stoppers

Barker did not say exactly what might tie such a car to the case, but it appeared the vehicle was captured on security video near one or more of the crime scenes.

A flyer asking for information on the car said it was seen near “recent homicides of four Muslim men.” The vehicle appears to be a sixth-generation Jetta, sold in North America from 2011 to 2018. The model was sold in “platinum gray metallic,” one of eight factory colors available.

The Volkswagen, Barker said, had tinted windows and possibly light body damage.

Keller said authorities do not know who owns or operates the sedan or exactly where it’s registered. The deputy chief asked anyone with information on a vehicle fitting that description to call Albuquerque Metro Crime Stoppers.

Police believe the attacks may be related, and the victims likely targeted, but they have not said motive was hate.

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 has not yet been identified, but authorities say he was Muslim and South Asian, as were all the other victims.

The first attack that could be connected to the violence happened Nov. 7 when 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 murders included the July 26 killing of Pakistani immigrant Aftab Hussein, 41; and the Monday slaying of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, near the University of New Mexico, authorities said.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, state police, the FBI, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation, with Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham saying Saturday that she had ordered more state officers to the city to assist.

“I know that together we all condemn the senseless killings,” Keller said at Sunday’s news conference.

Andrew Blankstein contributed.

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