Mosque leader Maulama Akonjee and his assistant, Thara Uddin fatally shot by gunman at Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque, NY, where they had just led afternoon prayer
A lone gunman executed the pair as they walked home from Saturday prayers, blasting each in the back of the head from point-blank range, without a word
Akonjee, 55, father of three, who arrived in Queens from Bangladesh two years ago and Uddin, 64, died in hospital a few hours later
Shooter described the shooter as tall and Hispanic, carrying a large handgun, and wearing a dark blue shirt and shorts
Cops say it appears shooter targeted and stalked victims. Suspect didn’t rob victims after the shooting
Police sketch of gunman, allegedly he’s described as a tall hispanic adult male with a medium complexion
A gunman described as a tall hispanic adult male with a medium complexion executed a revered Queens imam and his friend as the pair walked home from Saturday prayers, each victim was shot in the back of the head without a word, according to the police.
Mosque leader Maulama Akonjee and his assistant, Thara Uddin were dressed in Muslim garb when the killer “approached from behind and shot” from point-blank range, said NYPD Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner of the Queens South Detective Bureau.
Akonjee, 55, a married father of three, who arrived in Queens, NY from Bangladesh about two years ago and Uddin, 64, died in hospital a few hours after the attack.
“We are all crying,” said his brother Mashuk Uddin. “There’s so much crying.”
Scores of worshipers from the mosque gathered within hours at the murder scene to denounce the cold-blooded ambush as a hate crime.
“That’s not what America is about,” said local resident Khairul Islam, 33. “We blame Donald Trump for this . . . Trump and his drama has created Islamophobia.”
A police source said the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force would investigate, but it was “too early to say” what the motive was.The police said that they were investigating what led to the shooting, saying they did not know whether it was related to a botched robbery, a dispute or anything tied to their religion or race. “There’s nothing in the preliminary investigation that would indicate that they were targeted by their faith,”
However, investigators caution that the motive was still wide open although the crime did not fit any existing pattern and cautioned that the motive was still wide openThe police say . “What it does seem is that it was planned, to some extent,” the official said. “It looks more like a targeted shooting than anything else.”
Footage available to detectives does not show the shooting itself and they have not located an eyewitness, the official said. The video they have shows the gunman following the two victims. “There is no question that he was targeting them,” the official said. “But it’s hard to say why.”The suspected gunman appears to be following deliberately behind, then, they go out of the frame of the camera 15 seconds later, the same man is seen “running back,” alone, after the shooting.
“Unfortunately, because we don’t have yet good video coverage of the actual shooting, it’s hard to say what transpired,” the official said. “Witnesses said they heard several shots. They saw the guy running with the gun in his hand.” No one has said they heard the gunman speak during the shooting.
The imam’s nephew said Akonjee had no problems with anyone in the neighborhood.
“I’m not sure what kind of an animal would kill that man,” said Rahi Majid, 26. “He would
The gunshots rang out around 1:55 p.m. on 79th St., police said. Uddin, also a father of three, was lying on the ground bleeding heavily when his nephew arrived by chance at the scene.
“I was upset. I cried. He’s my uncle,” Rezwan Uddin, 28, said.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene where the silent shooter started blasting at the two unarmed victims in the middle of a blistering August afternoon.
“We are devastated,” said Kobir Chowdhury, president of a different neighborhood mosque. “We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to know if they did this just because of our religion.”
A police source said there were no reports of any problems going back several years at the mosque.
Cops and witnesses described the shooter as tall and Hispanic, carrying a large handgun, and wearing a dark blue shirt and shorts.Roughly 300 angry protesters clogged the streets late Saturday. “This community has been rocked by this crime,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich.
Afterward, they packed into a nearby mosque for an emotional news conference attended by Muslim leaders and a City Hall official.
“Please, read my lips. This is a hate crime no matter which way you look at it,” Chowdhury said.