Watch CBSN Live

NYC Muslims "outraged" over imam's daylight murder

Imam killed in NYC
Imam killed in NYC 01:30

NEW YORK -- Local Muslims are expressing outrage after a leader of a New York City mosque and another man were fatally shot in a brazen daylight attack.

Meanwhile, the search continued for the suspect who shot and killed an imam and his assistant in Queens on Saturday afternoon.

A NYPD police sketch of the main suspect in the murder of a Queens imam and a companion NYPD via CBS New York

Police have released a sketch of a suspect believed to have shot Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and 64-year-old associate, Thara Uddin, in the head while on their way home from a local mosque, CBS New York reports.

The shooting took place near Liberty Avenue and 79th Street in Ozone Park around 2 p.m.

Witnesses said the imam from the Al-Furqan Masjid mosque had just delivered an afternoon service and was walking home with another member of the mosque when both men were gunned down.

The motivation behind the violence is still unclear, but many from the surrounding community who attend the mosque are calling this a hate crime.

"We feel really insecure and unsafe in a moment like this," Millat Uddin told CBS New York. "It's really threatening to us, threatening to our future, threatening to our mobility in our neighborhood, and we're looking for the justice."

Udin told the Associated Press that the shooting "could be a net result of thepolitics that is going on."

According to the New York Daily News, Muslim men gathered at the scene to make clear that they viewed the attack as a hate crime. One man, local resident Khairul Islam, specifically called out Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has stirred controversy during the campaign with proposals to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the country.

"That's not what America is about," Islam, 33, told the paper. "We blame Donald Trump for this ... Trump and his drama has created Islamophobia."

"After prayer, he taught us how to live peacefully and how to help each other," said Nazrul Islam of Ozone Park.

"A family man has been lost and a scholarly imam has been lost and we are devastated and we want ... peace," said Kobir Chowdhury of Ozone Park.

As the investigation continues, loved ones mourned the two fathers killed.

"He's a very quiet, docile, religious person," one man said of Akonjee. "A man like him cannot be shot dead like this."

Photo of Imam Maulama Akonjee WCBS 880's Stephanie Colombini

"Seven children are left as orphans for the imam and three children for his associate," Afaf Nasher, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said. "Let's not forget the compassion needed at this moment."

New York City Councilmember Eric Ulrich, R-Ozone Park, said this is a close knit and devout Muslim community -- a Bangladeshi and Pakistani enclave that is heartbroken by the senseless crime.

"For a crime like this to happen in their own community and for the victim to be somebody that they love and respect and admire so much, it has deeply impacted this community," Ulrich said. "They are outraged."

Police said there is nothing to indicate that the two men were targeted because of their faith.

Authorities describe the suspect as a man with medium complexion, dark-colored polo-style shirt, and shorts.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue