The Hit-and-Run That Led the NYPD to an Imam’s Alleged Murderer

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Source: The Daily Beast

By MICHAEL DALY

The Hit-and-Run That Led the NYPD to an Imam’s Alleged Murderer

Less than 48 hours after an imam and his assistant were gunned down on a Queens street, a bicyclist’s sharp eye snared the suspect. But was it a hate crime?

Video shows that a bicyclist pedaling through the searing heat on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn did something real or imagined to anger a young man who drove past in an aging black Trailblazer.

The Trailblazer did a sudden U-turn at the corner of Pitkin Avenue and Pine Street just over the border from Queens. It then roared back and hit the bicyclist, who escaped catastrophic injury and managed to get the car’s license plate as it continued on its original path deeper into Brooklyn.

The bicyclist was doing more than he knew when he reported the incident. The report soon came to the attention of an old school first grade detective who was going through all summonses and traffic incidents in the immediate aftermath of the murder in broad daylight of an imam and his assistant Saturday as they walked from 79th Street onto Liberty Avenue at the edge of Queens.

After all, the Son of Sam had been caught thanks to a parking ticket his car got near the scene of his last attack.

The detective now saw that the bicycle incident had occurred 14 blocks away, and at the time it would have taken to drive that distance after a young gunman in a dark polo shirt and shorts stepped up behind 55-year-old Imam Alauddin Akonjee and 65-year-old Thara Uddin and shot each in the back of the head without saying a word.

Video from the shooting scene shows that the gunman had been following the imam and his assistant up 79th Street as they walked home from early afternoon prayers at the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque on Glenmore Avenue. The gunman had already been on the right side of the street in that video when his two targets crossed from the left side at mid-block. That made the detectives wonder if the gunman knew they would be turning right at the top of the block as part of their usual route.

Video also shows that as the two men crumpled fatally wounded onto the sidewalk, the gunman calmly turned around and strode hurriedly back down the block. Witnesses saw him with a gun in his hand. He left behind no shell casings, which suggested he had used a revolver.

The gunman was seen getting into a black Trailblazer and driving away. The direction and timing and description of both the driver and the vehicle—right down to the stickers in the windshield—were a perfect match with the man and the Trailblazer that made the vengeful U-turn to hit the bicyclist.

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