Authorities are now looking for a “vehicle of interest” that may be connected to the murders, Albuquerque Police Department Deputy Chief Cecile Parker said Sunday. The car is described as a dark silver, sedan-style Volkswagen Jetta or Passat with tinted windows, Parker said.
At the time of his slaying, Hussain was working on the planning board for the city of Española, New Mexico, and said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the man’s death, according to the mayor’s news release.
“Muhammad was soft-spoken and kind, quick to laugh,” Mayor John Ramon Vigil said in a news release last Wednesday. “He was well respected and liked by his colleagues and members of the community.”
Hussain, who worked in the office for a year, studied law and human resource management at Punjab University in Pakistan, before earning master’s and bachelor’s degrees in community and regional planning at the University of New Mexico, the mayor’s release said.
“Our city employees have lost a member of our family, and we have all lost a great public servant who loved to serve and improve his community,” the mayor said in a statement.
The University of New Mexico community is similarly “heartbroken” by Hussain’s death, President Garnett S. In a statement, Stokes called Hussain “an inspirational leader and a very special lobo who touched many lives”.
“It was my privilege to know him and work with him,” Stokes said.
Jesse Aleman, acting dean of graduate studies at the university, called Hussain a “brilliant, respected student leader” who “continued to expand his compassionate leadership skills and academic expertise at the local and state level” after graduating.
Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury, who said Hussain worked on her campaign for Congress, said his “smile and his spirit lit up a room.”
“Her work as a field organizer for our campaign has inspired countless people, along with her kindness and commitment to working with our communities, making her one of the kindest and hardest-working people I know,” Stansbury said at a news conference Sunday.
Police say the victims were ambushed without warning
The attacks have drawn condemnation from political leaders, including President Joe Biden, who said he was “angry and saddened” by the attacks.
“As we await a full investigation, my prayers are with the families of the victims and my administration stands strongly with the Muslim community,” Biden wrote on Twitter.
Vice President Kamala Harris and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham similarly expressed support for New Mexico’s Muslim community, with the latter describing the attacks as “deeply infuriating and completely intolerable.”
“I’m incredibly angry about the situation,” the governor said Sunday. “Every New Mexican needs to stand up and stand up against this kind of hate. It has no place in this city, it has no place in our state,” Lujan Grisham said.
Speaking to Muslim communities in Albuquerque and across the state on Sunday, Congresswoman Stansbury said Muslims are “part and parcel of who we are in New Mexico.”
“I want to say that each and every one of us in New Mexico must rise up to meet these acts of hate, by showing love, by showing friendship, by showing solidarity. This is not New Mexico. This is not us,” Stansbury said. “We will stand in solidarity. We will stand in grief and sorrow. And we will stand in our commitment to love and inclusion and belonging in this community.”
Albuquerque police officers responded to reports of a shooting in the area of Truman Street and Grand Avenue just before midnight Friday, and the victim was pronounced dead, according to a news release from the police department. The victim, a Muslim man believed to be in his mid-20s, is of South Asian origin, police said. His identity has not been positively confirmed, the release added.
Hussain, Hussain and Ahmadi were all “ambushed and shot without warning,” Kyle Hartsock, deputy commander of the police department’s criminal investigations division, said earlier.
“Our top priority is to keep the community safe, especially the Muslim community, and we ask them to be vigilant, to look out for each other. If you see something, say something,” the police chief said on Saturday. “Evil shall not prevail.”
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said Sunday that the Muslim community is living in fear because of the killings, and steps are being taken to increase security in the city.
“We’ve heard from the community that the fear is so strong that some people in certain parts of the city are worried about even getting groceries and food,” Keller said. The city is providing food to the shooting victims, he said.
“We thank local, state and federal law enforcement for their continued work in this crisis, and we call on the Biden administration to ensure authorities have all the resources necessary to protect Albuquerque’s Muslim community and stop those responsible for these heinous crimes. And innocent lives are being lost,” said CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell. said in a statement.
CNN’s Claudia Dominguez, Raja Razek and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.
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