When pulled over by New Mexico police, the suspect in the killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque denied any connection to the crimes that shook the city and its small Muslim community — and told authorities he was so unnerved by the violence that he was driving to Houston to look for a new home, the Associated Press reports. A criminal complaint said Muhammad Syed, 51, only had clothing, shoes and a handgun when he was arrested Monday during a traffic stop more than 100 miles from his home in Albuquerque. Investigators determined that bullet casings found in Syed's vehicle matched the caliber of the weapons believed to have been used in two of the killings and that bullet casings found at those crime scenes were linked to a gun found at Syed's home.
Syed, an Afghan immigrant, told detectives he had been with the special forces in Afghanistan and fought against the Taliban. He denied having any involvement in the murders. The ambush killings of the four Muslim men sent fear rippling through the Muslim community of New Mexico's largest city but generated a flood of information, including tips that led to the arrest of Syed, who knew the victims, authorities said. Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said it was not clear yet whether the deaths should be classified as hate crimes or serial killings or both. Syed had lived in the U.S. for about five years.