New York imam and assistant gunned down in broad daylight near mosque

Posted at 5:40 PM, Aug 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-13 19:40:21-04

By Pilar Melendez and Ray Sanchez


NEW YORK (CNN) — A New York imam and his assistant were gunned down in broad daylight Saturday after prayers at a nearby mosque, police said.

The two men were both shot in the head about 1:50 p.m. in Ozone Park, a working-class section of Queens with a burgeoning Bangladeshi population.

“There is nothing in the preliminary investigation that would indicate they were targeted because of their faith,” NYPD Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner told reporters.

Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and his assistant, Thara Uddin, 64, were transported in critical condition to Jamaica Hospital, where they later died, according to Sautner.

The victims were wearing religious attire at the time of the shooting, according to a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation.

Al-Furqan Jame Masjid Mosque is about two blocks from where the men were gunned down. They were walking home after midday prayers.

Investigators were trying to determine whether an earlier dispute at the mosque led to the shooting, according to law enforcement officials.

Nazim Uddin, a neighbor of the imam, told CNN he ran outside from his home when he heard gunfire. He remembered the imam as a good man who only a day earlier had delivered a eulogy at the mosque.

On Saturday evening, dozens of residents, mostly men, gathered under elevated train tracks waving signs and chanting, “We want justice!”

Police said surveillance video captured the gunman leaving the scene with his weapon in hand.

CNN’s Sara Ganim, Linh Tran, Shimon Prokupecz and Laura Ly contributed to this report

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