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QC08182016

FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.qns.com AUGUST 18, 2016 • The Queens Courier 9 BLOODSHED ROCKS SOUTH QUEENS Queens and nation condemn Ozone Park murders as an act of hate By Robert Pozaryck i rpozarycki@qns.com /@robbpoz As detectives worked to piece together the clues surrounding the execution of an Ozone Park imam and his assistant at a neighborhood mosque on Aug. 13, the neighborhood leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter. Elected officials across the city and nation, including a presidential Photo courtesy Mayor’s Office COPS CUFF TWO MEN FOR SHO TIN G FOUR PATRONS OU TSI DE A HO KAH LOUN GE By Robert Pozaryck i rpozarycki@qns.com /@robbpoz Detectives slapped the cuffs on two men for allegedly shooting four individuals following a dispute outside a hookah lounge in Richmond Hill early in the morning of Aug. 13, according to police. Law enforcement sources said Andre Soler, 31, of 88th Avenue in Richmond Hill and Donald Jones, 27, of Bergen Street in Brooklyn participated in the shooting that occurred at about 2:30 a.m. in the vicinity of Jamaica Avenue and 105th Street. According to police, a 30-yearold man was shot in the left thigh while a 26-year-old man was shot in the neck; a 36-year-old man was hit in the right forearm; and a 19-year-old man was shot in the leg and torso. Members of the 102nd Precinct and EMS units responded to the incident. The four men were rushed to Elmhurst and Jamaica hospitals; all are expected to make a recovery. The motive remains under investigation, but the Daily News reported that the shooting may have been triggered by an altercation at the club moments earlier. The suspects were observed fleeing inside a white sedan traveling at a high rate of speed. Police officers obtained a description of the suspects and their getaway vehicle. Later that morning, Soler and Jones — who fit the description of the individuals involved in the shooting — were stopped by police inside a white sedan at the corner of 179th Street and 104th Avenue in Jamaica. They were taken into custody initially on drunk driving and other related charges. Following an investigation and further questioning, the two suspects were charged on the night of Aug. 13 with attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment. During their arraignment hearing in Queens Criminal Court on Aug. 14, Soler was ordered held on $350,000 bail, while Jones was remanded on $250,000 bail. Both men are scheduled to return to court on Aug. 30. itself united in making a call for justice against their killers. Thousands in the heavily Bangladeshi Muslim community took to the streets for an impromptu rally demanding that the killer be found and arrested. Many expressed their belief that the murders were an act of hate at a time when Muslims across the nation find themselves subjected to undue suspicion fostered largely out of political rhetoric. The NYPD did not immediately consider the murders as a hate crime, but did not rule it out entirely, as the investigation into the double homicide unfolded. Amid the outcry for justice, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) New York chapter held a press conference on the night of Aug. 13 condemning the murders and calling on the killer to be quickly brought to justice. “The perpetrator of these senseless killings must be swiftly apprehended and face the full force of the law,” said CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher. “We ask anyone with information about this attack to contact appropriate law enforcement authorities.” The CAIR also announced a $10,000 reward for information Photo via Facebook/Robert Stridiron Crime scene investigators at the scene of an early morning shooting outside a Richmond Hill hookah lounge on Aug. 13. candidate, also expressed their outrage over the attacks on social media. “When religious leaders are targeted, we all bear the pain those in Ozone Park feel most personally today,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement on Aug. 14. “While we do not yet know the motivation for the murders of Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin, we do know that our Muslim communities are in the perpetual crosshairs of bigotry. It remains critical that we work to bridge the divides that threaten to undermine the greatness of our city and country. Rest assured that our NYPD will bring this killer to justice.” “I stand in strong solidarity with all Muslim New Yorkers tonight as we mourn the killings of Imam Maulama Akonjee & Tharam Uddin,” tweeted Councilman Eric Ulrich. “When a religious leader is killed in broad daylight on the streets of Queens, we must come together as a community and demand justice!” He would add, “In every corner of my district, my constituents are concerned about their safety. Crime is a serious issue & one that needs to be addressed.” “Tragic killing of imam in Ozone Park must be investigated as a hate crime,” tweeted Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. “I’m looking forward to standing with my Muslim neighbors in #OzonePark as we confront this tragedy,” added Assemblyman David Weprin in a tweet. Former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also condemned the murder in a tweet: “The senseless murders of Imam Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin are heartbreaking. This kind of heinous act has no place in America.”


QC08182016
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