The Albuquerque Police Department has said it detained a “primary suspect” in the recent murder of four Muslim men in the US state of New Mexico.
The police announced the arrest on Twitter on Tuesday after the killings, which were denounced by President Joe Biden, sparked nationwide alarm among Muslim communities.
“We tracked down the vehicle believed to be involved in a recent murder of a Muslim man in Albuquerque,” Police Chief Harold Medina’s office said in a Twitter post.
“The driver was detained and he is our primary suspect for the murders. We will update the media later this afternoon.”
Three Muslim men from the same mosque – aged between 25 and 41 – were fatally shot in the area during the past month. A fourth Muslim man was also killed last November in a case that police believe may be linked to the recent shootings.
On Sunday, local police released a photo of a car that they described as a “vehicle of interest in the shootings of 4 Muslim men”, soliciting information from the public about it. Local law enforcement had set a $20,000 reward for information leading to the shooter.
Muslim-American organisations and activists had been calling for employing federal and local resources to apprehend the attacker, with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) urging the White House last week to take a “direct role in responding to this shooting spree”.
On Sunday, Biden said he was “angered and saddened by the horrific killings”, stressing that his administration “stands strongly with the Muslim community”. Vice President Kamala Harris also denounced the killings.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham had called the shootings “wholly intolerable”, promising to do everything possible to support the Muslim community in the state.
“I am sending additional State Police officers to Albuquerque to work in close coordination with APD and the FBI to bring the killer or killers to justice – and they WILL be found,” she wrote on Twitter last Saturday.
— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) August 9, 2022
The motive behind the killings remained unclear. Police have said they will provide more information about the suspect later on Tuesday.
“We will be monitoring this news and we will keep the victims’ families and Albuquerque’s Muslim communities in our hearts and thoughts,” Muslim Advocates, a rights group, said after the arrest on Tuesday.