PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) – Moneer “Manny” Simrin, a member of Omar Mosque in Paterson, is now a local hero after he helped subdue the assailant who stabbed an imam leading a prayer service on April 9. Simrin provided a chilling firsthand account of what happened.
“The imam started screaming. He’s saying, ‘Somebody’s killing me.’ He started screaming in the mosque with the microphone so loud,” said Simrin. “Everybody got up. The guy tried to run outside, and we grabbed him by the door. He kicked the door. When he kicked the door, he tried to push. He thought the door was going to open by itself, and his foot broke the glass, and he got stuck with two knives in his hands.”
Simrin and other congregants didn’t hesitate, grabbing the alleged attacker, 32-year-old Sarif Zorba, an immigrant of Turkey who recently came to Paterson. He remains locked up on attempted murder and other charges.
“We asked him, ‘Who the hell are you? Why are you doing this?’ And he didn’t say anything,” said Simrin.
Simrin said Zorba was silent and cold as police took him into custody.
“We all were like, ‘Why did he do that? Who’s this guy? Where he come from?'” said Simrin.
While they didn’t know him personally, congregants did see him around.
“He came and he sat in the corner all the time, even the imam [saw] him,” said Simrin. “But we never asked him. We thought he was a regular guy.”
Simrin was recognized Monday by the City of Paterson for his heroic efforts. Officials said the imam is recovering and is in good spirits.
The majority of the heroes who rushed the attacker did not wish to be identified or speak publicly, but officials said if it wasn’t for their heroism, this could have ended in tragedy.
“Probably more than half of the congregants went in pursuit of this individual and were able to apprehend him to prevent possibly a greater harm to the community or other mosques in the area,” said Adul Hamdan, Omar Mosque’s spokesman.