New York, NY (BBN)– Two Bangladeshis including an imam (Muslim cleric) were gunned down when they walked along a street in the borough of Queens in New York, police said.
The men were approached from behind by a man who shot them both in the head, a police spokesman said.
Mosque imam (leader) Maulana Akonjee and his friend Thara Uddin were dressed in Muslim garb when the killer “approached from behind and shot” from point-blank range, said NYPD Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner of the Queens South Detective Bureau, reports the New York Daily News.
Akonjee, 55, a married father of three, was a respected religious leader since his arrival in Queens from Bangladesh less than two years ago. The bearded Uddin, 65, died about four hours after the attack.
The imam and the second man were shot a short walk from the al-Furqan Jame mosque at about 13:50 local time (17:50 GMT) on Saturday, reports BBC.
Police said there were as yet “no indications” the men were targeted because of their faith.
A man holding a gun was seen leaving the scene of the shooting in the Ozone Park area, but no-one has been arrested.
Police said the suspect had a “medium complexion”.
Friends of Imam Akonjee told media he had just left the mosque after prayers when he was shot. The mosque serves the large Bangladeshi community in Ozone Park.
A number of people from the nearby Muslim community have gathered at the scene to demonstrate, saying the shooting was a hate crime, although police said they were still investigating the motive.