NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)– Police are searching for a trio of people who they say jumped a 59-year-old man who was riding his bike outside a mosque in Queens.
A man who reportedly witnessed the attack said Mohamed Rasheed Khan was followed out of the Center for Islamic Studies in Jamaica, Queens and then beaten around the corner by three individuals Wednesday evening, CBS2’s Christine Sloane reported.
Khan was punched and suffered bruising to the face and a concussion, police said. Witness Ramazan Alli said he discovered Khan’s lifeless body.
“And I keep shaking him and telling him, I keep telling him to stay with me, stay with me,” he told CBS2.
The man was beaten so badly that he can’t speak. His family is convinced it was a bias crime because Khan was wearing Islamic attire and the suspects stole nothing from him, including the bike he was on.
“Two of them running back laughing so hard. Something came to me that Rasheed just turned that corner,” Alli said.
The man’s relatives are heartbroken.
“My uncle is an American citizen that did not deserve this and he is very humble and doesn’t bother anybody,” his niece Asha Deopersaud said. “He was coming to pray and Islam is all about love and caring for others. The criminals who did this don’t identify with that.”
Khan’s brother-in-law said he is struggling badly for his life with internal bleeding.
The NYPD was originally not investigating this as a hate crime. Now the Council on American-Islamic Relations has gotten involved, saying hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise.
“It has been reopened, whether or not it is labeled as a bias crime is under investigation,” said CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher.
Alli said the suspects followed Khan passed a market and hopes the store may have surveillance video that will lead police to the suspects responsible.