Surveillance video captures moment imam, associate were fatally shot near Queens mosque

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OZONE PARK, Queens — Surveillance video captured the moment when a gunman shot and killed an imam and his associate near a Queens mosque Saturday afternoon.

Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, of Queens, and his associate Thara Uddin, 64, were walking home from services held at Al-Furqan Jame Masjid Mosque just before 2 p.m. when a man shot them in the head, police said.

Akonjee — the leader of the mosque who ran the services — was pronounced dead at the scene. Uddin died later at the hospital.

Akonjee died from gunshot wounds to the head and torso and sustained injuries to his brain, heart, lungs and liver.

Uddin died from a gunshot wound to the head. He sustained injuries in his brain.

A surveillance video obtained by PIX11 News shows the gunman running up behind the two men on the corner of Liberty Avenue and 79th Street and gunning down both men. He was then seen dashing away in the opposite direction.

*WARNING* Video may be disturbing to some. 

Police released a sketch of the suspect who shot and killed an imam and his associate in Ozone Park, Queens. (DCPI)

Police released a sketch of the suspect who shot and killed an imam and his associate in Ozone Park, Queens. (DCPI)

Police released a sketch of the suspected gunman on Sunday based on witness accounts. He has been described as a man with medium complexion and was last seen wearing dark colored shirt and blue shorts.

Motive for the shooting has not been determined, according to police. When reporters asked if it was a robbery, police said nothing was taken from either man.

Akonjee had been carrying nearly $1,000 with him at the time of the shooting, all which was still on him when cops arrived at the scene, according to a police source.

The source also added that it was "rather clear that they were targeted but this doesn't appear to be a hate crime."

However on Sunday, family and neighbors of the imam and his associate gathered at their home, who lived just blocks away, trying to make sense of the heinous crime.

Uddin's brother told the Associated Press Uddin had come to the U.S. from Bangladesh five years ago and was devoted to his family and religion.

A neighbor who worshipped with the men said he believes the attack was a hate crime. He felt that the anti-Muslim sentiment in the neighborhood has been brewing for some time now.

The Anti-Defamation League is also urging the NYPD to investigate the shooting as a possible bias crime, according to the Associated Press.

City Hall said in 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."

Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement Sunday about the Ozone Park shooting, deploring the violence the community experienced.

“This weekend our city was stung by violence that devastated a congregation and unsettled a community," the statement reads. "When religious leaders are targeted, we all bear the pain those in Ozone Park feel most personally today. While we do not yet know the motivation for the murders of Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin, we do know that our Muslim communities are in the perpetual crosshairs of bigotry. It remains critical that we work to bridge the divides that threaten to undermine the greatness of our city and country. Rest assured that our NYPD will bring this killer to justice."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed his condolences for the families and community members affected, and demanded justice.

A funeral prayer, known as a Janaza, will be held Monday at 2;30 p.m., at the Municipal Parking Field at 581 Grant Ave., in Brooklyn.