An Afghan refugee accused of shooting two Muslim men and suspected of killing two others has been held without bail pending trial as prosecutors argued on Wednesday that he was a danger to his own family and the wider community. .
Prosecutors during a detention hearing pointed to Muhammad Syed’s prior history, which included allegations of domestic violence and a case in which he refused to stop for law enforcement after running a red light. Charges in those cases were eventually dropped, but they argued Syed’s story showed a pattern of violence.
“The defendant is really incapable of following any type of legal order or incapable of following the law, period,” said John Duran, assistant district attorney. “The accused really does not respect any law. It seems evident that he has no respect for any human life.”
Syed, 51, has denied any involvement in the killings that rocked New Mexico’s Muslim community, and his defense attorneys argued he had no criminal record as previous cases were never pursued. They also tried to argue that there was no flight risk and that he had lived at the same address for two years.
Judge Joseph Montano rejected an attempt by Syed’s lawyers to place Syed under house arrest, saying no conditions of release would prevent him from leaving his home or committing a crime.
The judge also pointed to a criminal complaint accusing Syed of stalking the victims and ballistics evidence amassed by investigators so far.
“The weight of evidence here is high,” Montano said.
Syed was arrested Aug. 8 more than 100 miles from his home in Albuquerque. He told authorities he was headed to Texas, citing ambush-style killings as his concern.
Police said they received more than 200 tips and one from the Muslim community led them to the Syed family. Syed knew the victims, authorities said.
Syed is charged with murder in the deaths of Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain. Hussein, 41, was killed on the night of July 26 after parking his car in the usual spot near his home. Afzaal Hussain, a 27-year-old urban planner who had worked on the campaign of a New Mexico congresswoman, was shot on August 1 while on his night walk.
Syed is the prime suspect, but has not been charged, in the death of 25-year-old Naeem Hussain, who was shot Aug. 5 in the parking lot of a refugee resettlement agency in southeast Albuquerque, and the murder. of Muhammad Zahir Ahmadi, a 62-year-old Afghan immigrant who was fatally shot in the head last November behind the market he owned in the city.
According to the criminal complaint filed by Albuquerque police, investigators determined that shell casings found in Muhammad Syed’s vehicle matched the caliber of weapons believed to have been used in two of the murders and that shell casings found in the crime scenes were linked to weapons found at Syed’s home and in his vehicle.
Federal authorities in court documents pointed to cell phone records and accused one of Syed’s sons of possibly helping his father track down Naeem Hussain before he was killed. Shaheen Syed’s attorney called those allegations weak and dismissed prosecutors’ claims that the younger Syed provided a false address when he bought a gun at a local store in 2021.