A lone gunman on Saturday executed a Queens imam and his friend as the pair walked home from Saturday prayers, The New York Daily News reports.
The gunman shot each in the back of the head without a word, officials said.
Mosque leader Maulama Akonjee and friend Thara Uddin were dressed in Muslim garb when the killer “approached from behind and shot” from point-blank range, NYPD Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner of the Queens South Detective Bureau said, according to The 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. Uddin, 65, died about four hours after the attack.
A high-ranking police source said the NYPD hate crimes task force would investigate, but it was “too early to say” what the motive was.
A second source said investigators were looking into the possibility of a botched robbery because one of the men was found carrying several hundred dollars, according to the news website.
The shooter left his victims lying in their own blood just one block from the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque in Ozone Park, where the two victims prayed together only minutes earlier.
Local residents described the imam as a pious, well-regarded member of the community. A police source told The Daily News there were no reports of any problems going back several years at the mosque.
Cops and witnesses described the shooter as tall and Hispanic, carrying a large handgun, and wearing a dark blue shirt and short pants.