ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – KRQE News 13 now knows the name of the person murdered Monday night near the University of New Mexico’s campus. Police continue to search for 27-year-old Muhammad Afzaal Hussain’s killer. Afzaal came to New Mexico from Pakistan and made a big impact in a lot of lives while he was here.
Afzaal’s family is in mourning and his brother Muhammad Imtiaz shares, “Muhammad was my youngest brother and he was very active and lively person and much involved in the community. All the time ready to help people, he started his graduate program here at the University of New Mexico.”
The 27-year-old was found shot to death Monday night near Cornell and Garfield less than a block from where he lived. Afzaal moved to New Mexico from Pakistan in 2017 to get his master’s degree at UNM.
While a graduate student at UNM, he became the president of the graduate and professional student association. “My background was, I did my undergrad in law and business. With my background especially in the law, I really wanted to continue but I really wanted to give back to my community,” said Afzaal said in an interview back in 2019 with UNM.
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He also had a passion for politics, volunteering for Melanie Stansbury’s congressional campaign. She told KRQE News 13 how Afzaal wanted to make the state more inclusive. The congresswoman shared, “He helped to launch one of our state’s first AAPI outreach efforts in the political realm. And we had phone banks that were in a half dozen different languages. And he was always about mobilizing, reaching out to all our different and diverse communities, and trying to figure out how do we create spaces where everybody feels like their voices are heard.”
He then took a job for the city of Española as a city planner commuting back and forth from Albuquerque every day. He was actually set to move to Española this week.
The Mayor of Espanola, John Ramon Vigil shares, “He believed Espanola was a diamond in the rough and he had that faith in this community and I just I enjoyed that energy that that positive spirit and mantra that he gave off with his colleagues and just myself, you know, that that was heartwarming, and, you know, I that really touches me when I think about that.”
Afzaal’s brother, along with his two young nephews, were staying with him at the time of his death. He says around 9 p.m. Monday night, Afzaal went outside. A couple of hours went by and Afzaal was still gone, so his brother called 911 and police told him his brother was dead. He says it’s been difficult trying to explain to his kids what happened. “They’re asking me where’s our chacha, that’s how we say uncle in our language, Chacha, where’s our uncle, did he come back? and I’m trying to…I don’t know how to tell these are little kids.”
Witnesses say they saw a car pull up Monday night and started shooting, Afzaal died at the scene. Muhammad Imtiaz says it was difficult to tell his family in Pakistan. “I told my brother, sister, they told my father and I couldn’t even be able to talk to him, he lost his young son.”
It is still not known what led up to his murder or the motive of the killing. Now, the family says all they want is a rigorous investigation into who killed Afzaal. “We want results, we want to know who has done that and their motive. My brother will not come back but I want someone else brother, someone else sister, someone else dad or mother should not be victim of those people.”
The city of Espanola has set up a Go-Fund-Me to help Muhammad Afzaal’s family during this difficult time. You can donate here.