Imam dies after shooting outside New Jersey mosque

ByAaron Katersky ABCNews logo
Thursday, January 4, 2024
Imam dies from injuries after being shot outside mosque in Newark
Toni Yates is live with the breaking details.

NEWARK, N.J. -- An imam has died after being shot outside a mosque in Newark, New Jersey, on Wednesday morning.

The imam, Hassan Sharif, was taken to University Hospital in critical condition, according to Newark Public Safety Director Fritz Fragé. The imam later died, according to an official briefed on the probe.

The shooting occurred just after 6 a.m. outside Masjid Muhammad, Fragé said.

When police reported to the scene, they found Sharif lying in the parking lot with multiple gunshot wounds, 10 feet from the mosque entrance, according to a law enforcement source briefed on the case. Sharif had bullet wounds in his abdomen and left arm.

Investigators are now feverishly going through security and city-owned street cameras to determine whether they can spot an assailant, the source said. As often is the case, some of the cameras were not operational, but detectives believe they may have found at least one angle showing someone entering the parking lot and then running off, the law enforcement source said. Bullet casings have also been retrieved are being analyzed.

The mosque traces its history to the earliest days of the Nation of Islam's presence in New Jersey. It used to be known as Mosque No. 25. The imam is a well-known figure in Newark, frequently appearing with city leaders and he has delivered prayers at council meetings.

Investigators do not have a motive at this point, according to an official briefed on the probe.

While the investigation into the shooting continues, the Essex County prosecutor said "there is no information at this time suggesting the crime was motivated by bias."

Sharif had also served as a transportation security officer at Newark Liberty International Airport since 2006.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of his passing and send our condolences to his family, friends and co-workers," the airport said in a statement.

The investigation is being handled cooperatively by Newark police and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.