Imam Shot Dead Near Mosque in NYC, Sketch of Suspect Released

KENA BETANCUR/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two men, including an imam, were gunned down and killed Saturday near a mosque in New York City, police said.

A lone gunman shot both men in the head, police said, but nothing so far indicates that the men were targeted because of their faith.

Police identified the 55-year-old imam as Maulama Akonjee. The other victim has been identified as Tharam Uddin, 64, of Queens, N.Y.

The suspect is still at large, police said, and no motive was given. NYPD released a sketch of the suspect, below, early Sunday morning.


Imam Shot Dead Near Mosque in NYC, Sketch of Suspect ReleasedNYPDThe shooting took place on a very busy street about a block from the al-Furqan Masjid Mosque in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, N.Y.

Witnesses say a male with a medium complexion and polo style shorts and shirt was seen fleeing the scene of the shooting with a gun in hand, according to police.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's press secretary said 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," Press Secretary Eric Phillips said.

NYPD Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner the multiple 911 calls came in at about 1:50 p.m. Saturday about two men being shot.

"Responding officers from the 106 Precinct arrived at the scene and discovered a 64-year-old male and a 55-year-old male, both with gunshot wounds to the head," Sautner said.

"At this time, our preliminary investigation revealed that the 2 victims were walking northbound on 79 Street and as they were turning onto Liberty Avenue, they were approached from behind by what witnesses and video surveillance shows, a male with medium complexion dressed in a dark polo shirt and shorts," Sautner added. "At this time, a motive has not been determined, and we are currently conducting an extensive canvass of the area for video and additional witnesses. There are no arrests at this time and the investigation is ongoing."

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