A grand jury has indicted Muhammad Atif Syed on three counts of first-degree murder in a series of shootings that rattled Albuquerque’s Muslim community and drew international media attention.
The grand jury indictment — made public Monday — added a third count of first-degree murder charging Syed in the Aug. 5 shooting death of Naeem Hussein, 25.
Syed, 51, had initially been arrested Aug. 9 on two open counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Aftab Hussein, 41, on July 26, and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, on Aug. 1.
A grand jury convened on Friday and issued an indictment containing all three counts of first-degree murder and four counts of tampering with evidence in connection with the three shooting deaths, 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Lauren Rodriguez said Monday.
Police and prosecutors say they are continuing their investigation into the Nov. 7, 2021, shooting death of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a fourth Muslim man Syed is suspected of killing.
“Our homicide detectives continue to work with prosecutors to ensure all victims receive justice in this tragic case,” Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina said Monday in a statement.
Ahmadi was killed behind a halal market he owned with his brother. Albuquerque police have identified Syed as a key suspect in Ahmadi’s killing. But as of Monday, no charges have been filed in his death.
Syed was arrested near Santa Rosa while he was driving east on Interstate 40 toward Texas. A SWAT team searched his Southeast Albuquerque apartment and police say they found the gun that fired the bullets that killed Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain.
Rodriguez said an analysis of cellphone records provided key evidence to charge Syed with the third count of first-degree murder.
A district judge last week ordered Syed to remain in custody at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center while he awaits trial.
Syed’s attorneys did not immediately respond on Monday to messages seeking comment.
“In the time between the arrest warrant for the homicides of Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, and the convening of the Grand Jury Friday, additional evidence deriving from cell phones came to light enabling us to present the homicide of Naeem Hussain to the Grand Jury,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
Naeem Hussain was shot to death Aug. 5 after he attended funeral services at the Islamic Center of New Mexico for Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain.
APD investigators allege Syed shot Naeem Hussain as he sat in the driver’s seat of his white 4-Runner in the parking lot of Lutheran Family Services in the 200 block of Truman NE.
Authorities say Syed followed Naeem Hussain in his Volkswagan Jetta from the Islamic Center of New Mexico after the funeral services.
Detectives also obtained surveillance video that showed a gray Jetta sedan fleeing the scene of Naeem Hussain’s killing after the fatal shooting, police said.
APD released a photo of the Jetta on Aug. 8 asking for information from the public and received tips that Syed owned the car.
After Syed’s Aug. 9 arrest, detectives used bullet casings found at the scene of Naeem Hussain’s shooting death to link him to that killing, police said Monday.