International desk – Lawmen have arrested a suspect believed to be involved in the murder of a New York Imam and his assistant, media reports said Monday quoting officials in the United States.
Alauddin Akonjee, 55, a Bangladeshi-born Imam of a mosque in New York, and his 64-year-old assistant Thara Uddin were killed by an unnamed assilant while the duos were walking down the street in Queens of New York.
Now a police source has said that the man suspected of carrying out the killing was taken into custody and officers believe he was an experienced shooter.
A source told the New York Daily News that the man was taken in for questioning after an NYPD Regional Fugitive Task Force apprehended the man when he rammed an unmarked police car in Queens.
However, police have not officially confirmed whether a suspect is in custody. It comes after the surveillance footage emerged of the two men being ambushed by the shooter.
The suspect, wearing a dark shirt and blue shorts, then runs off and leaves two men dying in the middle of the street. The video has yet to be independently verified.
The brazen shooting has been branded a hate crime by people in the community who are demanding justice. Bangladeshi community in New York demonstrated on the street for the second day Sunday asking for justice.
Reports suggest the Imam had $1,000 in cash on him, but it was not stolen. Police have released a sketch of the man suspected of carrying out the attack.
The sketch, which was released early on Sunday, depicts a dark-haired, bearded man wearing glasses.
Police say video surveillance showed the suspect then fled south on 79th Street with the gun still in his hand. Police say they could not ascertain a motive, and that there’s no indication the men were targeted because of their faith.
But members of the Bangladeshi Muslim community served by the mosque worry it could be a hate crime.
Akonjee came to Queens from Bangladesh a little less than two years ago, according to his relatives in Bangladesh’s north-eastern Sylhet district.
A local resident Khairul Islam blamed Donald Trump for the shooting. “Trump and his drama have created Islamophobia,” he told a local newspaper.
Police said they received multiple 911 calls of two males being shot at the corner of Liberty Avenue and 79 Street around 1.50pm (Saturday).
Both men suffered gunshot wounds to the back of the head and were rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Imam Akonjee was pronounced dead at the hospital while his assistant died hours later.