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New York - Imam, Associate Fatally Shot After Leaving NYC Mosque

Published on: August 13, 2016 11:00 PM
By: AP
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Sandals mark the crime scene, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, not far from the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid Mosque in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, New York, where the leader of a New York City mosque has been fatally shot and an associate has been wounded in a brazen daylight attack. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)Sandals mark the crime scene, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, not far from the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid Mosque in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, New York, where the leader of a New York City mosque has been fatally shot and an associate has been wounded in a brazen daylight attack. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

New York, NY -  The leader of a New York City mosque and an associate were fatally shot in a brazen daylight attack as they left afternoon prayers Saturday.

Police said 55-year-old Imam Maulama Akonjee and his 64-year-old associate, Thara Uddin, were shot in the back of the head as they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in the Ozone Park section of Queens shortly before 2 p.m.

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Both men were later pronounced dead, an administrator at Jamaica Hospital said.

In this undated photo provided by Shahin Chowdhury, Imam Maulama Akonjee is shown. Akonjee and another man died Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016 after being shot after they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in the Queens borough of New York after prayers on Saturday. Police say that motive has yet to be determined. (Shahin Chowdhury via AP)In this undated photo provided by Shahin Chowdhury, Imam Maulama Akonjee is shown. Akonjee and another man died Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016 after being shot after they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in the Queens borough of New York after prayers on Saturday. Police say that motive has yet to be determined. (Shahin Chowdhury via AP)

Police said no motive has been established and there is no reason to believe the men were shot because they were Muslim. No suspects are in custody.

“There’s nothing in the preliminary investigation to indicate that they were targeted because of their faith,” said Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner of the New York Police Department.

Sautner said video surveillance shows the victims were approached from behind by a man in a dark polo shirt and shorts who shot them and then fled with the gun still in his hand.

Members of the Bangladeshi community served by the mosque said they want the shootings to be treated as a hate crime.

More than 100 people attending a rally at the shooting site Saturday night chanted “We want justice!”

Sarah Sayeed, a member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s staff, serves as a liaison to Muslim communities. She attended the rally and said, “I understand the fear because I feel it myself. I understand the anger. But it’s very important to mount a thorough investigation.”

Khaled Rahman, who also was there, said he believes the shootings were an attack “against our religion” and he hopes police increase security around mosques.

Shahin Chowdhury, a worshipper at the mosque, said members of the community had felt animosity lately, with people cursing while passing the mosque. He said he had advised fellow community members to be careful walking around, especially when in traditional clothing.

He called the imam a “wonderful person” with a voice that made his Koran readings especially compelling.

Worshipper Millat Uddin said Akonjee had led the mosque for about two years and was a very pious man.

“The community’s heart is totally broken,” said Uddin, who is not related to Thara Uddin. “It’s a great misery. It’s a great loss to the community and it’s a great loss to the society.”

Neighbors also described Thara Uddin as a pious and thoughtful man who prayed five times a day and went to the mosque. While at home, they said he would water his garden and one next door.

“A very honest, wise man ... (And) a very helpful guy,” said neighbor Mohammed Uddin, who is not a relation of Thara Uddin’s.

People gather for a demonstration Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, in the Queens borough of New York, near a crime scene after the leader of a New York City mosque and an associate were fatally shot as they left afternoon prayers. Police said 55-year-old Imam Maulama Akonjee and his 64-year-old associate, Tharam Uddin, were shot as they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)People gather for a demonstration Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, in the Queens borough of New York, near a crime scene after the leader of a New York City mosque and an associate were fatally shot as they left afternoon prayers. Police said 55-year-old Imam Maulama Akonjee and his 64-year-old associate, Tharam Uddin, were shot as they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
People gather for a demonstration Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, near a crime scene after the leader of a New York City mosque and an associate were fatally shot in a brazen daylight attack as they left afternoon prayers. Police said 55-year-old Imam Maulama Akonjee and his 64-year-old associate, Tharam Uddin, were shot in the back of the head as they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in the Ozone Park section of Queens shortly. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)People gather for a demonstration Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, near a crime scene after the leader of a New York City mosque and an associate were fatally shot in a brazen daylight attack as they left afternoon prayers. Police said 55-year-old Imam Maulama Akonjee and his 64-year-old associate, Tharam Uddin, were shot in the back of the head as they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in the Ozone Park section of Queens shortly. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)


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Read Comments (4)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 13, 2016 at 11:12 PM Aron1 Says:

"...no reason to believe they were shot because they were Muslim..."
Seriously? How STUPID do the police think we are?
I can understand if Trump made this statement. He has already established that he holds the intellect level of the general public, especially his erstwhile lemming-like supporters, in extremely low regard.

2

 Aug 14, 2016 at 12:43 AM Godol-Hador Says:

We want justice- also.

3

 Aug 14, 2016 at 11:42 AM Boroch Says:

This is a horrible hate crime, and Yidden should be concerned, also. Two years ago, on Shabbos, Chassidic Rabbi from Brooklyn, was gunned down in Miami Beach, by a low life 14 year old Black, who bragged about his crime; he was later arrested, and is facing trial. Hence, we all know the pain of such a horrible event.

4

 Aug 14, 2016 at 06:19 PM Chaim Dov Says:

They probably were about to reveal some secrets on Hillary Clinton

5

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