Fatal shooting of Imam Hassan Sharif outside Newark, N.J. mosque not believed to be bias or domestic terror-related incident, authorities said

Officials give update on killing of imam outside N.J. mosque

Officials give update on killing of imam outside N.J. mosque


NEWARK, N.J. — Imam Hassan Sharif was fatally shot Wednesday morning outside a mosque in Newark, New Jersey.

Police said the imam was rushed to University Hospital, where he was initially listed in critical condition, but succumbed to his injuries. 

The shooting was reported shortly after 6:15 a.m. outside Masjid Muhammad mosque on the corner of Camden Street and South Orange Avenue.

Officials give update on killing of imam outside N.J. mosque


As CBS New York’s Christina Fan reported, the building appeared to be open for the 6 a.m. Fajr prayer — the first of five daily prayers — when the attack took place. 

Hours later, Newark police officers could be seen positioned outside the entrance, while a state police helicopter monitored the situation from the sky.

So far, there’s no word on a suspect or a motive in the shooting. 

“We do not yet know the motivation for this crime,” N.J. Attorney General Matthew Platkin said. “While we are not yet at liberty to discuss the progress of our investigative efforts, the evidence collected thus far does not indicate that this was an act motivated by bias or an act of domestic terrorism. While we ordinarily not go public with this type of information so early in our process, we know, and I know, that in light of global events, and with a rise in bias directed at many communities we’re experiencing across our state, but particularly the Muslim community, there are many in New Jersey who are fearing a heightened sense of fear, or anxiety, at the news of this slaying.” 

“If there’s any evidence that this was anything, broadly speaking, a hate crime, Islamophobia, anything in that lane, it is completely reprehensible, unacceptable in the state of New Jersey, and we will take whatever actions we need to take. But again, that’s assuming it’s the case. I do not have confirmation that it is the case. But I will say this – we pray for the imam and his family, certainly, fervently,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. 

“I’m heartbroken by the shooting death of Imam Hassan Sharif. I am closely following updates as Newark and county police investigate and I’m hopeful justice will be served swiftly. My heart is with the members of Masjid Muhammad and the entire NJ Muslim community,” Sen. Cory Booker wrote on X. 

“The [Essex County Prosecutors Office] is working with the Newark Police Department and other agencies to identify the person or persons responsible for this violent act.  At a time when bias crimes against members of the Muslim community are on the rise, we know this act of gun violence may heighten concerns,” Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens said. 

CAIR-NJ, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, released a statement asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact the police. 

“We are deeply concerned about this incident and pray for the speedy recovery of the imam,” the statement said in part. 

According to its website, the mosque, formerly known as Temple #25, was founded in 1957 and is also home to Clara Mohammed School-Newark for students K-12. The website lists the names of a resident imam and two assistant imams. 

Word of the shooting is reverberating throughout the Tri-State Area. In Long Island’s Nassau County, authorities are increasing patrols at mosques. 

“While there is no information at this time concerning the cause of the shooting, out of an abundance of caution I am increasing patrols to protect the Muslim community,” Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Newark Police Department at 1-877-NWK TIPS (1-877-695-8477).

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