The murder of a Queens Imam and his assistant in Ozone Park on Saturday has left residents gripped with fear and calling for justice.
The Queens Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and his assistant Thara Uddin, 64, were killed by an unknown shooter while making their way home after praying at the Al-Farqan Jame Masjid Mosque, according to NY Daily News.
The shooter is currently on the run and police are investigating the incident.
Here are five facts about the deadly shooting of the Queens Imam.
1. Shooting Happened in Broad Daylight
Police say that the shooting of the Queens Imam and his assistant happened a few minutes before 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
NYPD Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner said the shooter approached Akonjee and Uddin from behind and shot them in the head. He said while Akonjee died at the scene, Uddin died a few hours later at a hospital, AP reported.
Akonjee traveled to Queens from Bangladesh about two years ago, according to NY Daily News. He is reportedly married and has three children.
The Imam and his friend were dressed in Muslim attire at the time of the shooting. However, Sautner said there is no clear indication that the two men were targeted because of their religion.
2. Queens Imam Didn’t “Have Problems With Anyone”
Akonjee’s daughter, Naima Akonjee, said the Queens Imam did not “have any problems with anyone,” according to AP. She described her father as a caring man.
Police said that for some years now there has been no record of any dispute at the mosque.
Rezwan Uddin, a nephew of Thara Uddin who was one of the first people to arrive at the crime scene, also said his uncle did not have problems with anyone, according to NY Daily News.
“I’m shaking, my whole body. Not any problems with anybody. He just goes to the mosque, prays and goes home,” he said.
3. Protesters Call For Justice
Hours after the shooting, scores of people gathered at the crime scene calling for justice for the murdered Queens Imam and his assistant, according to AP.
At a news conference organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Kobir Chowdhury, a local Imam, called for investigators to find out the motive of the shooter.
“We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to know if they did this just because of our religion,” he said.
Meanwhile, Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the New York City Council, has released a statement expressing shock and sadness about the murder of the Queens Imam and his assistant.
“This kind of hate has no place in our communities and we must come together as a city to reject it,” her statement said.
4. Hate Crime?
Many of the protesters calling for justice for the murdered Imam and his assistant have described their murder as a hate crime.
“Please, read my lips. This is a hate crime no matter which way you look at it,” Chowdhury said.
Some residents are reportedly blaming Donald Trump for the shooting as a result of the rise in Islamophobia.
However, the police have not confirmed that Islamophobia was among the motives of the shooter.
A source told the NY Daily News that investigators are considering the possibility that the Queens Imam and his assistant were killed during a robbery as cash was found on one of the men.
5. Suspect On The Run
The man who shot the Queens Imam and his assistant is on the run.
Police have described the shooter as a tall Hispanic adult male with medium completion, according to NY Daily News. Police say surveillance footage shows the suspect wearing a dark colored polo shirt and shorts. He was reportedly also caught on camera fleeing after the shooting.
[Photo by Craig Ruttle/AP Photo]