No indication they were targeted because of their faith, police say
A Queens imam and another man were shot and killed Saturday as they walked down a street in the borough’s Ozone Park neighborhood, police said.
The New York Police Department received at 1:50 p.m. reports of a shooting near 79th Street and Liberty Avenue, Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner said.
The imam, Maulama Akonjee, 55 years old, and the second man, Thara Uddin, 64, both were shot in the head. They were rushed to Jamaica Hospital where Mr. Akonjee was soon pronounced dead. Mr. Uddin was pronounced dead later in the afternoon.
Police said surveillance video from the scene showed the two men turning onto Liberty Street, then a man coming up behind them and shooting them. The shooter then is seen fleeing with the gun still in his hand.
At a briefing near the site of the incident, Inspector Sautner said detectives had no indication in the early stages of the investigation that the shooting was a hate crime.
There was “no indication they were targeted because of their faith,” the inspector said.
Police said they hadn’t determined a motive in the shooting and were canvassing the area for more video footage.
“This incident is scary,” said Abu Amin, a Muslim who lives nearby but said he didn’t worship at Mr. Akonjee’s mosque. “We are now feeling insecure.”
“We need security from [the] police department and authorities so people will be safe in this community,” Mr. Amin said.
The two victims were walking home from Saturday afternoon prayers dressed in Islamic attire, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement Saturday night.
“The perpetrator of these senseless killings must be swiftly apprehended and face the full force of the law,” said CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher. “We ask anyone with information about this attack to contact appropriate law enforcement authorities.”