(NewsNation) — Muhammad Afzaal Hussain is being remembered as someone who had a youthful energy and a passion for the city in which he worked.
Hussain was one of four Muslim men killed in a series of shootings since November in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Police believe the killings may be linked and are looking for a vehicle of interest in the case.
Hussain worked as the director of planning and land use for the nearby city of Espanola. Mayor John Ramon Vigil said Monday on “NewsNation Prime” that the loss of Hussain, who was not a native of the area, has been devastating.
“This valley, which has such great big hearts, welcomed Muhammad with open arms and he became part of us,” Vigil said. “He had a passion and energy for this city.”
The killings have left the Muslim community in Albuquerque in fear, and police said they plan to step up patrols and security at mosques in the city. Vigil said Espanola is planning a memorial for Hussain and the police force is working on a plan for enhanced security.
“We’ve never had hate crimes like this in our smaller rural communities outside of Albuquerque, but we don’t know how widespread this is,” Vigil said. “It’s very terrifying.”
To learn Hussain’s death could possibly be part of a larger series of hate crimes was “salt on the wound,” Vigil said, because of New Mexico’s diverse population.
“To see this growth and movement toward hate crime is unfortunate because that doesn’t define New Mexico,” Vigil said. “It’s hard to grasp.”