Queens, NY imam and his assistant were both shot by a lone gunman on Saturday as they left prayer services at the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid Mosque in Ozone Park.
The New York Daily News reported that both men were shot in the head at around 1:50 p.m. in broad daylight. Police have not released the victims’ names, only reported that one man is dead and the other is seriously injured. (updates below)
Outside the mosque a group of congregants gathered to grieve and commiserate.
“That’s not what America is about,” said resident Khairul Islam to the Daily News. “We blame Donald Trump for this…Trump and his drama has created Islamophobia.”
Witnesses said the two men were walking together when a single gunman walked up to them and opened fire. The shooter is described as “tall and dark-skinned, carrying a large handgun, and wearing a dark blue shirt and short pants.”
“People being shot in the head in broad daylight is unheard of,” said Millat Uddin, a 25-year resident of the neighborhood to the Daily News. “Killing people brutally, like they’re an animal.”
“All of a sudden I heard five shots,” said a witness, “I knew it wasn’t firecrackers. And then the commotion of the emergency (vehicles), and that’s when I knew…When I came here, they were doing CPR to both of the people on the ground.”
The two men were rushed to Jamaica Hospital where one was pronounced dead.
“For no reason,” said neighborhood resident and leader at another nearby mosque, Kobri Chowdhury. “He had finished his prayers…Somebody else with him. Just a pure, blind, hate crime.”
UPDATE, 5:50 p.m. EDT: Police report that the imam was killed and his assistant is in serious condition.
UPDATE, 6:13 p.m. EDT: Police report that the second victim has died as well. Here is an official NYPD statement about the shooting:
UPDATE 6:16 p.m. EDT: Police identified the imam as Imam Alala Uddin Akongi, 55, a married father of three.
UPDATE 7:42 p.m. EDT: The New York Post identified the second victim in the shooting as Thara Uddin, 64.