Morning Word

Police Arrest Suspect in ABQ Muslim Murders

NMED files complaint against “Rust” film producers

Police arrest suspect in ABQ Muslim murders

Albuquerque Police and the FBI yesterday afternoon announced they had arrested Muhammad Syed, 51, and charged him with murder in two of the four fatal shootings of Muslim men in the last nine months: Aftab Hussein on July 26 and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain on Aug. 1. In a news release, APD Chief Harold Medina said detectives will continue to work with the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office on potential charges for the other two homicides: the Aug. 5, 2022 murder of Naeem Hussain and the Nov. 7, 2021 murder of Mohammad Zaher Ahmadi. In a news conference yesterday that included multiple speakers from law enforcement agencies, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and US Rep. Melanie Stansbury, officials said they received hundreds of tips that ultimately led them to Syed. As they continue to investigate his suspected involvement in the remaining two cases, police asked the public to continue to come forward (505-843-STOP). “We’re going to continue to take all those tips for this one reason,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda said, “because there might still be evidence out there. Someone might still have seen something that often makes sure that we’re not missing anything as far as this investigation goes.”

A criminal complaint filed against Syed last night says during interviews with detectives—which were conducted with a Pashto interpreter for Syed, who is from Afghanistan—he denied involvement but said he has known Naeem Hussain since 2016 and “recognized Aftab Hussein from parties in the community.” Officials in yesterday’s news release said they had discovered evidence indicating Syed “knew the victims to some extent and an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings.” APD Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock declined to speculate over reports that Syed might have committed murder due to resentment, as a Sunni Muslim, over a marriage involving a Shiite Muslim. “We do have some information about those events taking place,” he said, “but we’re not really clear if that was the actual motive…it’s really important that we’re still investigating.” Hartsock said police recovered multiple firearms from Syed’s home; in his interview with police, Syed said he had been in special forces in Afghanistan and fought the Taliban. Police records show he has been arrested three times, twice for domestic violence. The Albuquerque Journal reports hundreds gathered last night at the Islamic Center of New Mexico and vowed “to stay united” as the community grieves.

NMED files administrative complaint against Rust movie

The state environment department yesterday announced it has filed an administrative complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission against Rust Movie Productions. That complaint follows April 19 citations the department issued after a six-month investigation into the Oct. 21 shooting death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza. In that report, NMED cited the company “for the plain indifference to the recognized hazards associated with the use of firearms on set that resulted in a fatality, severe injury, and unsafe working conditions,” and issued its highest level of citation—a Willful-Serious citation carrying a $136,793 civil penalty, which the department is now asking the commission to assess. Rust Movie Productions contested the April citations, but the parties were unable to come to an agreement during a 90-day administrative review period. According to an NMED news release, the movie company will have 15 days following service of yesterday’s complaint to file its response with the commission, at which point the commission will schedule a hearing. The environment department’s action follows a statement from First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies last week that her office has not yet finished its investigation, pending outstanding evidence.

SF Archbishop denounces nuclear weapons

During a Mass and discussion last night marking the 77th anniversary of the United States’ atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester offered prayers for those harmed by the production and use of nuclear weapons: the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings; New Mexico’s Trinity Test downwinders; uranium and nuclear weapons workers; and any future victims of atomic weaponry. He also criticized the upsurge of funding for the state’s nuclear laboratories, such as Los Alamos National Laboratory’s production of plutonium pits. “This is the single most critical part of the government’s $2 trillion plan to completely rebuild existing nuclear weapons with new military capabilities, and to buy at enormous taxpayers’ expense new missiles, submarines and bombers to deliver them,” Wester said. “This is nuclear weapons forever.” The mass followed Wester’s January 2022 pastoral letter in which he urged New Mexicans to work toward nuclear disarmament. It also coincided with a recent joint multi-media investigation by the LA Times and ProPublica into “decades of sickness in the small northwest New Mexico communities of Murray Acres and Broadview Acres,” as the result of uranium mining.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Aug. 9

New cases: 572; 598,960 total cases

Deaths: nine; Santa Fe County has had 332 total deaths; there have been 8,297 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 179. Patients on ventilators: 11

Case rates: According to the state health department’s most recent report on geographical trends for the seven-day period of Aug. 1-7, Roosevelt County had the highest daily case rate per 100,000 population: 73.9, followed by Quay County at 61.3 and McKinley County at 57.9; Santa Fe County’s case rate continues to decline and was at 34, a decrease from 42.2 the prior week. The state recorded 5,274 total cases statewide—based on reported cases—over the seven-day period, an approximate 16% decrease from the previous week.

Community levels: According to the CDC’s most recent update for COVID-19 “community levels,” a framework that combines case rates with hospital metrics, eight New Mexico counties have “red” or high levels for the seven-day reporting period (the map updates on Thursdays). Santa Fe County remains “yellow” or medium. Seven counties have “green” or low levels. The community levels site has accompanying recommendations at the bottom of the page. The CDC also provides a quarantine and isolation calculator.

Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. Vaccines for children: Parents of children ages 6 months to 5 years can now schedule appointments for vaccinations at VaccineNM.org.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

Science/health radio program The Pulse examines recycling, including attempts by people such as Santa Fe resident Shirley Knarr to minimize what ends up in the landfill. Knarr personally has been recycling since the 1970s and is committed to finding ways to use items not allowed in recycling bins: “I think much of our community is very recycling conscious and disappointed that they can’t recycle more than they can,” she says. She’s also a member of New Mexico’s Eldorado 285 Recycles, a group that collects and redistributes non-recyclables, such as pens and rubber-bands. “A friend’s son calls us re-psychos,” organizer Karen Sweeney tells The Pulse.

Santa Fe vernacular

Santa Fe earns a spot on Best Life’s “10 Best U.S. Cities to Visit for Architecture Lovers,” list, coming in at No. 7. “Santa Fe, New Mexico is perched on a high desert and has an energy that is as unique as its architecture,” Nathan Heinrich, designer, writer and host of the I’m Moving To Italy! podcast tells Best Life. “If you want to feel like you have stepped through a portal into another dimension, this is the city for you. Not only is this city home to some of the country’s most talented artists, the Pueblo and Greek Revival architectural styles found here speak a language all their own.” (Here’s a little primer on Santa Fe architecture). Boston ranked first, by the way, but Santa Fe beat out New York. Speaking of Santa Fe architecture, this story reminded us of Friends of Santa Fe Architecture’s “Spaces Speak” map, where you can read submissions from people about their favorite Santa Fe landmarks, spaces, buildings etc.

Green chile every day

We read the story about a Colorado native who vowed to eat green chile every day for a year for two reasons (listed in no particular order): 1. it appeared in Denver’s altweekly newspaper Westword, a publication we love; and 2. to see if New Mexico would end up figuring in Will Dozier’s chile pledge. It sure did. First off, Dozier’s “go-to” spot in Denver is Adobo, owned by former New Mexico resident Blaine Baggao. Dozier got married in Santa Fe and served green chile apple pies from Chili Line Depot in Tres Piedras at his wedding, a delicacy he discovered when driving home from a skiing trip in Taos that remains “one of my favorite things that I’ve ever had.” In fact, he and his wife eat one of the pies each year on their anniversary—Chili Line’s owners Deb and Gill Grades actually drove the pie to Dozier and his wife in 2020 (Dozier sounds less keen about breaking into a bottle of green chile wine he picked up in New Mexico). Despite the key role New Mexico obviously must play in any chile addict’s life, Dozier declines to take sides in the New Mexico/Colorado chile wars. “If it’s got green chile in it, I like it,” he tells Westword. “I get it, people like the rivalry, but there’s a place for everybody’s chiles. There’s no bad chile. There’s only better chile.” Truer words.

Here comes the rain again

Today will be mostly sunny with a high near 85 degrees, with scattered showers and thunderstorms after noon and a 50% chance of precipitation. The National Weather Service forecasts those storms could produce heavy rain, with a 30% chance for additional scattered showers and thunderstorms this evening.

Thanks for reading! The Word found this Atlantic essay from a clinical psychiatrist denouncing idleness on vacations (as a conduit to misery-inducing self-introspection) fairly entertaining—and potentially persuasive.

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