Hours before the Albuquerque killings suspect was identified, reporters were inside his home

Aug 10, 2022, 5:39 AM | Updated: 11:53 am
August 9, 2022, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA: JOURNAL.Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina , left...
August 9, 2022, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA: JOURNAL.Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina , left is joined at a press conference by Mayor Tim Keller and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in announcing the arrest of Muhammad Syed , a suspect in the recent murders of Muslim men in Albuquerque.Photographed on Tuesday August 9, 2022.Adolphe Pierre-Louis/JOURNAL (Credit Image: © Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal via ZUMA Press Wire)
(Credit Image: © Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal via ZUMA Press Wire)

(CNN) — Authorities said Tuesday they arrested 51-year-old Muhammad Syed as a suspect in the killings of two Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Hours before the announcement, CNN was inside Syed’s home and spoke to his daughter, who offered insight on her father and what happened when they last saw each other, which she said was before his arrest and before authorities executed a search warrant on their family’s home.

The daughter, one of Syed’s six children, spoke to CNN Tuesday morning, while the family was still cleaning up after investigators had pored over the contents of the house the night before. Living room rugs were tossed around, and the contents of drawers had been strewn about. A flag of Afghanistan — from where Syed and his family moved several years ago — still hung prominently in the living room.

CNN has chosen not to name the daughter out of concern for her safety.

She said her father, who works as a truck driver, drives a gray Volkswagen Jetta. Albuquerque police previously released images of a gray Volkswagen sedan, appearing to be a Jetta, which they called a “vehicle of interest” in the killings.

Syed left his home in his vehicle Monday night, telling his family he was going to Texas to find a place for them and adding he was fearful of the recent shootings that had taken place in the Muslim community, his daughter said.

Authorities, acting on a tip from the public, had been preparing to execute a search warrant on Syed’s home Monday night when they saw him get into his car and followed him, deputy commander of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division Kyle Hartsock said in a Tuesday news conference.

Syed was pulled over and detained near Santa Rosa, New Mexico, which is about 120 miles east of Albuquerque, roughly halfway to the Texas border.

Meanwhile, police executed the search warrant in Syed’s home and found multiple firearms, Hartsock said.

Syed’s daughter said he was home during the shootings but could not offer proof.

“My father is not a person who can kill somebody. My father has always talked about peace. That’s why we are here in the United States. We came from Afghanistan, from fighting, from shooting,” she told CNN.

The family has been in the US for roughly six years, the daughter said.

Hartsock confirmed Syed is from Afghanistan, saying that during the last several years he had “a few minor misdemeanor arrests (from the Albuquerque Police Department) from domestic violence” and some other incidents, adding “that’s our only known history with him locally.”

All three previous domestic violence charges Syed faced were dismissed, Hartsock said.

According to the affidavit for his arrest, Syed denied any involvement in the killings during an interview with police on Tuesday.

Four killings of Muslim men took place in Albuquerque between November 2021 and this month, with the latest three occurring within a span of two weeks. All victims were of South Asian descent and an arrest affidavit obtained Tuesday by CNN affiliate KOAT provided more details on two of the killings.

According to police, one of the victims Aftab Hussein was found on July 26 with multiple gunshot wounds, lying next to a car. Detectives learned that the gunman had waited behind a bush near the driveway where the victim usually parked his vehicle and then fired through the bush multiple times when Hussein got out of his vehicle, according to the complaint.

On August 1, police got a call about a drive-by shooting and found Muhammud Afzaal Hussain with multiple gunshot wounds, the complaint states.

In the suspect’s home, authorities found information that showed Syed may have known the victims “to some extent” and that interpersonal conflict may have led to the killings, police said on Tuesday.

Officials said they plan to charge him with two homicides — the killings of Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain — and Hartsock said they are working with the district attorney on potential charges for the August 5 killing of Naeem Hussain and the November 2021 killing of Mohammad Zaher Ahmadi.

There is evidence “strong enough that” authorities are continuing to view Syed as the “most likely person of interest or suspect’ in those killings as well,” Hartsock said.

One of the firearms recovered in his home has been linked to bullet casings found at the scenes of two of the killings, while casings for a handgun found in his car when he was stopped were linked to one of the scenes, according to the arrest affidavit.

The daughter told CNN she married a man in February 2018, and her father was not happy with the marriage at the time but had come to accept it more recently. She said her husband was friends with two victims, Aftab Hussein and Naeem Hussain.

Police said they haven’t yet determined a motive for the killings.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Associated Press

CDC drops traveler health notices for individual countries

The CDC is doing away with notices about the COVID-19 risk of visiting specific countries.
1 day ago
WILMINGTON, NC - SEPTEMBER 23: Former President Donald Trump arrives at a Save America Rally at the...
Associated Press

Trump files $475 million defamation lawsuit against CNN

Former President Donald Trump has gone to court against CNN, a familiar target when he was president.
1 day ago
Search crews in Florida....
Mike Anderson

Rescue teams continue to find residents affected by Hurricane Ian

Search teams are helping oversee FEMA's efforts to search for those survivors, which is no easy task.
1 day ago
FILE photo...
REBECCA BOONE Associated Press

Idaho ordered to pay $2.5M to transgender inmate for legal fees

A federal judge has ordered Idaho and its prison medical care provider to pay more than $2.5 million in legal fees to a transgender inmate who sued after she was denied gender confirmation surgery.
1 day ago
surveillance image of possible shooter...
Associated Press

Police: 6 California killings may be work of serial killer

Ballistics tests have linked the fatal shootings of six men and the wounding of one woman in California— all potentially at the hands of a serial killer — in crimes going back more than a year.
1 day ago
OREM, UT - FEBRUARY 21: A bump stock is installed on an AK-47 at Good Guys Gun and Range on Februar...
Associated Press

Supreme Court rejects bump stock ban cases, one from Utahn

The Supreme Court says it won't take up two cases that involved challenges to a ban enacted during the Trump administration on bump stocks. Those are the gun attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Hours before the Albuquerque killings suspect was identified, reporters were inside his home