Suspect in killings of Muslim men appears in court, denies involvement

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 51-year-old Muhammad Syed is now behind bars, charged with two of the four murders of Muslim men in Albuquerque. According to police, he’s still the main suspect for the two other killings.

Syed was in court Wednesday for the first time since his arrest.

Syed needed an interpreter for the hearing. His intepreter had to leave before they were finished, and then there was some back and forth until the hearing could start again. Once a second intepreter was brought in, Syed virtually stood in front of a judge – handcuffed in his orange jumpsuit.

Syed was read the charges that he faces – two open counts of murder – and the maximum penalties that come with them. Syed wanted to speak, but his lawyer quickly cut him off.

“No, your honor, I ask the court not to take any statements from my client at this time,” his lawyer said.

Through the interpreter, the judge told Syed he will be transferred over to the Metropolitan Detention Center as he waits for his detention hearing.

Syed was taken into custody by New Mexico State Police Tuesday after a traffic stop near Santa Rosa. At the same time, the Albuquerque Police Department executed a search warrant at his home where they found multiple guns, including one police believe was used in at least two of the murders.

According to APD, Syed is still the main suspect in all four murders of Muslim men, but they only have enough evidence at this time for the two charges.

“We’re continuing to investigate his involvement in the other crimes,” said APD Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock.

The state filed for pretrial detention, so at a later hearing it will be determined if Syed will be released before his trial.

Police said during their questioning Syed did admit to knowing both of the victims he is charged with killing, but denied he was the one who pulled the trigger.

Syed has domestic violence and battery charges going back to 2017.

First, his daughter’s boyfriend at the time called police after he claimed Syed pulled him out of his car and repeatedly punched and kicked him. He said he was attacked because Syed wasn’t happy about him dating his daughter.

Then, six months later, investigators arrested Syed for battery and domestic assault after he reportedly pushed his wife to the ground and pulled out a chunk of her hair in a public lobby.

Later that year, police arrested Syed on another aggravated battery charge after he reportedly beat his wife and son with a spoon – drawing blood.

However, in all three instances, charges against Syed were dropped.