OZONE PARK, Queens — Police released the sketch of the suspect who fatally shot the leader of a Queens mosque and his associate while they were walking home from services Saturday afternoon.
Police say Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, of Queens and his associate Thara Uddin, 64, were walking home from services at Al-Furqan Jame Masjid Mosque on Glenmore Avenue just before 2 p.m. The gunman appeared on the corner of Liberty Avenue and 79th Street and shot them in the back of the head.
Akonjee was pronounced dead at the scene. He was the imam of the mosque and ran the services.
Uddin was rushed to Jamaica Hospital where he later died.
The two were dressed in traditional Islamic attire when the shooting happened.
Witnesses described the shooter to police as a man with medium complexion who was last seen wearing a dark colored shirt and blue shorts. A sketch was released Sunday morning that was drawn based on witness accounts.
"The perpetrator of these senseless killings must be swiftly apprehended and face the full force of the law," said CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher. "We ask anyone with information about this attack to contact appropriate law enforcement authorities."
Police have not yet determined a motive in the shooting. When asked if it was a robbery, police told reporters nothing was taken from either man.
Most people in the community feel certain it was a hate crime.
"I don't think its a coincidence that is the two main officials of the mosque, it just doesn't connect," said Mahfuza Haque.
A crowd gathered at the mosque calling for justice.
“I’m really upset and angry,” said Millat Uddin, who knew the victims. Uddin described them as good, pious people.
Police said at a press conference said there is "no indication" that the men were targeted because of their religion. They said it's still early in the investigation and a motive has not been determined.
The mosque serves a community of Bangladeshi immigrants.
City Hall released a statement Saturday night regarding the shooting:
"The mayor is closely monitoring the NYPD investigation of this tragedy. We have a senior liaison with the Muslim community on-site to ensure mosque congregants and the neighborhood receive all the support and information they need during this difficult time. While it is too early to tell what led to these murders, it is certain that the NYPD will stop at nothing to ensure justice is served."
Witnesses told police they saw the suspect running away with a gun in his hand.
Police are canvassing the area looking for additional witnesses and videos.
The investigation is ongoing.