ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The man accused of killing at least two South Asian men, sending shockwaves through this city’s Muslim community, was arrested twice in 2018 in disturbing incidents of domestic violence — including one inside a state office building, according to court documents.
In each case, charges against Muhammad Syed, 51, were dropped – once because the alleged victim, his wife, refused to cooperate with prosecutors, and in the other because he attended a program court-mandated diversion, spokesperson for the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office. said Wednesday.
Syed and his wife were heading to the New Mexico Department of Social Services on May 2, 2018, when they argued about his driving skills, according to a criminal complaint filed by Albuquerque police.
“While she was driving, Muhammad pulled her by the hair and threw her out of the vehicle and walked her to the office building,” the complaint said.
After arriving at social services two hours later on foot, Syed “started yelling at her why it took her so long to get to the office” and “while she was in the waiting room, Muhammad l ‘grabbed her by the hair and threw her to the ground,’ the complaint reads.
The incident was at least partially witnessed by a social services worker, Erica Montoya, who heard screams and saw Syed’s wife “on the floor crying and she had a large lock of hair that fell out. ground,” according to the court document.
Syed was arrested and taken into custody for assaulting a family member before that charge was dropped due to his wife’s refusal to cooperate, the DA representative said.
It was not immediately clear if Montoya had offered to testify or what help the couple had sought from social services, a spokeswoman for the department told NBC News. That case against Syed was dismissed on August 21, 2018, according to court records.
Then, on December 23, 2018, police were called to Syed’s home by his son, who told an officer that his father had “systematically beat him and his mother in the past” and had done it again this that day, according to a criminal. complaint.
Syed allegedly used a slotted spoon to strike his son in the head, “causing a laceration” as “blood from the back of his head soaked into his hair”, according to the court filing.
Syed was convicted of aggravated battery and attended a diversion program, which included classes on domestic violence and anger management, the DA spokeswoman said. Syed’s case was dismissed on April 30, 2019, records show.
Syed was arrested on Monday and charged with the murders of Aftab Hussein, 41, and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, on July 26 and August 1, police said.
He is also being investigated for his potential involvement in the murder of two other men, also Muslims of South Asian descent.
Syed is represented by a public defender, and a spokeswoman for the office declined to comment Wednesday.
Alicia Victoria Lozano reported from Albuquerque and David K. Li from New York.