By Carly Mallenbaum | 14 August 2016
USA TODAY — An imam and his associate were fatally shot Saturday after leaving afternoon prayer at their New York City mosque.
According to police, Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 64, were both shot in the back of the head at the corner of Liberty Avenue and 79th Street in Queens.
Surveillance video appears to show a man, wearing shorts and a dark polo shirt, approaching them from behind before fleeing with a gun. Police released a sketch early Sunday of a dark-haired, bearded man wearing glasses. Police said witnesses described the shooter as a man with a medium complexion.
No arrests had been made by early Sunday.
“There’s nothing in the preliminary investigation to indicate that they were targeted because of their faith,” said Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner of the New York Police Department. However, Reuters reports that there are videos of men gathering to demonstrate near the crime scene, with one telling the crowd that the murder was a hate crime.
In a statement, Sautner said that the police “are currently conducting an extensive canvass of the area for video and additional witnesses. There are no arrests at this time and the investigation is ongoing.”
Shahin Chowdhury, a worshiper at the mosque, told AP that he recently heard people cursing while passing the mosque and advised community members to be cautious. He called the imam a “wonderful person.”