NYPD Hunts Suspect in Brazen Murder of Imam

Imam, friend were gunned down in broad daylight Saturday as they left prayers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 14, 2016 7:13 AM CDT
NYPD Hunts Suspect in Brazen Murder of Imam
Imam Maulama Akonjee is shown. Akonjee and another man died in a fatal shooting Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, as they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in Queens after prayers.   (Shahin Chowdhury via AP)

New York City police have released a sketch of the suspect they say fatally shot the leader of a mosque and a friend as they left afternoon prayers. Police say witnesses described the shooter of 55-year-old Imam Maulama Akonjee and 64-year-old Thara Uddin as a man with a medium complexion, last seen wearing a dark shirt and blue shorts. Police released a sketch early Sunday of a dark-haired, bearded man wearing glasses, reports the AP. Authorities say the shooter approached the duo from behind as they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in Queens shortly before 2pm Saturday; he shot both victims in the head, reports DNAinfo. Both were taken to the hospital, where Akonjee was immediately pronounced dead. Uddin died shortly after.

Police say video surveillance showed the suspect then fled south on 79th Street with the gun still in his hand. Police say they haven't determined a motive, and that there's no indication the men were targeted because of their faith. Naima Akonjee, the imam's daughter, says her father didn't have "any problems with anyone." But members of the Bangladeshi Muslim community served by the mosque worry it could be a hate crime. More than 100 people attended a rally Saturday night. (More imam stories.)

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