ELMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — World leaders are expressing outrage over the assassination of the president of Haiti.
Jovenel Moise was shot to death early Wednesday in an attack at his residence. His wife was also shot and wounded.
The New York metropolitan area has the largest concentration of Haitians in the U.S. and many are expressing sadness and anger, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
On the Queens-Nassau County border, lined with Haitian-owned businesses, restaurant owner Baz Germaine woke up to shocking news that has him fearing for the island nation’s future.
“I worry because my dad is still there, my sister is still there,” Germaine said.
“It’s terrible. I mean, it’s a human being that got killed,” added Ralph Dubuche of Cambria Heights.
Watch Carolyn Gusoff’s report —
Those who call Haiti their first home have watched decades of turmoil recently escalate with rising violence, kidnappings and poverty. But the assassination brings a new level of alarm.
The Embassy of Haiti in Washington called the assassination, “a well coordinated attack by a highly trained and heavily armed group,” and President Moise, “a true statesman who was committed to progressing our country’s democratic transition and fighting corruption.”
Protests had recently erupted over claims his term had expired.
Elvire Naar of Elmont called the assassination in her native Haiti heartbreaking.
“That is so devastating. To me, it is a national disgrace,” Naar said. “What is next? What is next? I have no clue.”
Michaelle Solages is one of five members of the New York State Assembly of Haitian descent.
“Even though the situation is complex, what’s going on in Haiti, people don’t want to see a leader assassinated in cold blood. They want to see unity, they want to see democracy and they want to see elections,” Solages said.
A purported image of the bloody slain leader was sent to a shaken Rev. Edy Bichotte, leader of Nassau’s largest Haitian church, Bethany French Baptist.
“The worry now is for the continued killing, or those who are fan of this president will react. Which way now, who they will kill? There is no president. It is a jungle,” Bichotte said.
As one Haitian-American New Yorker put it, “I would like to return one day to Haiti. I am just praying things there get better. At this point, they couldn’t get worse.”
Wesley Jean Simon immigrated to New York as a teenager.
“Right now is a sad moment. Everyone’s in shock,” he told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
He now owns a Haitian restaurant in Brooklyn’s Little Haiti neighborhood while his father still lives on the island nation they call home.
“Now I gotta keep calling him every day, make sure everybody’s OK,” he said. “It’s worse than anything I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”
“Haitians have had a long history of political turmoil, but we haven’t done the assassination route in almost a century, so this was really shocking,” said Garry Pierre-Pierre, founder of the “Haitian Times,” a New York-based newspaper.
He says the assassination is going to create more difficulties for the people of Haiti.
“You’re gonna find food insecurity growing. You’re gonna find a lot more people being internally displaced by more gang violence because now there is a constitutional crisis on top of everything. We don’t know what role the gangs who have been terrorizing Haiti might do,” he said.
Nearly 90,000 Haitians live in Brooklyn, and many in the community are worrying now more than ever about the country’s future.
“I felt like Haiti could have a better future if there is a good stable government,” Haitian New Yorker Jacques Lagure said.
“My f ear is just that our people are falling apart down in Haiti and us out here, we don’t even know what to do to help,” Simon said.
President Joe Biden condemned the assassination as a “heinous act” and said the U.S. stands “ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti.”
CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff contributed to this report.