The police believe the gunman killed the imam and friend over a feud, not their faith.
A gunman killed Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and his friend Thara Uddin, 64, near the Furquan Jame Masjid mosque in Queens on Saturday. The man shot the men point blank in the back of the head.
*UPDATE 10:06PM* New York City Police Department Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told reporters the police believe the man they detained committed the crime. NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton added:
“Detectives were able to develop a strong lead into a suspect very early on based on an unrelated incident that occurred in Brooklyn, approximately 10 minutes after the shooting, three miles away,” Bratton said.
Boyce explained the car involved in the hit-and-run was identical to the car the suspect got into following the double shooting.
Earlier today, the police did not consider the man a suspect.
The police do not believe the murderer targeted the men over their faith. They do not have a motive, but police said they “were trying to determine whether an earlier dispute at the mosque led to the shooting.”
Sources said the killer may have hit a cyclist as he attempted to get away, who jotted down the “license plate number and gave it to police.”
Boyce described what they did to nab the man:
Boyce said police found the vehicle and monitored it until the person emerged about 10 p.m. Sunday. When detectives approached the car, Boyce said the man then rammed their car.
Boyce said the 36-year-old Hispanic male was there eight minutes prior to the shooting and that a motive has not yet been determined. A search warrant has been obtained for his home in East New York, Brooklyn.
The police released video of the shooting and a sketch of the suspect.
— Elizabeth Maness (@ElizbethLManess) August 14, 2016
From The New York Daily News:
Sources pointed to an ongoing feud between Muslims and Hispanics in the neighborhood, saying the shooting may have been payback after a group of Muslims allegedly attacked some Hispanics a few weeks earlier.
Cops have established is that at 1:50 p.m. Saturday, the assassin quickly approached Akonjee and Uddin and shot them both in the head at close range. The double killing came just moments after prayers concluded at the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque.
Akonjee had $1,000 on him, but the murderer did not take the money, which eliminates robbery as a motive.
Yet, people have pointed the finger at GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump for inciting the violence:
“That’s not what America is about,” said local resident Khairul Islam, 33. “We blame Donald Trump for this. Trump and his drama has created Islamophobia.”
They arrested the 35-year-old man after they tracked “him through an old-model Chevy Trailblazer similar to the one the killer was spotted getting into at the scene of the crime.”
Jewish activists showed support for the Muslims:
Jewish activists visited the mosque Sunday night in a show of solidarity. Robert Silverman, 57, director of Muslim/Jewish relations for the America Jewish Congress, went straight to the mosque after getting off a flight from Indonesia.
“We’re here to show support to the Muslim community,” he said. “It was a heinous crime. We have to rely on the police to decide if this was a hate crime. We really don’t know what this was motivated by.”
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