Imam and Assistant Shot Dead in New York

New York, – A New York imam and his assistant were shot down in broad daylight Saturday after prayers at a nearby mosque, police said.

The two men were both shot in the head as they walked along a street in Ozone Park in New York borough of Queens.

“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, the (CNN) reported.

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.

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

“The perpetrator of these senseless killings must be swiftly apprehended and face the full force of the law,” Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement. “We ask anyone with information about this attack to contact appropriate law enforcement authorities.” Police said the suspect had a “medium complexion”.

Imam Akonjee and his assistant Thara Uddin, 64, were shot a short walk from the al-Furqan Jame mosque at about 13:50 local time (17:50 GMT) on Saturday.

Source: Qatar News Agency