Authorities are searching for a gunman accused of fatally shooting a 65-year-old man during a carjacking outside of an Upper Darby mosque.
Worshippers of the mosque told CBS Philadelphia that the shooting happened in the rear parking lot of Masjid Al Madinah, aka the Upper Darby Islamic Center, located at 201 S. 69th Street.
“This is very, very sad,” Ziaur Rahman, the president of the Islamic Center, said. “This is a shock. This is outright — indescribable.”
The victim of the shooting was identified as Mohammad Rahman. He was a husband, father and longtime Philadelphia resident. He was also a correctional officer at Riverside Correctional Facility in Holmesburg.
“Peaceful, great guy, no complaints,” David Robinson, the president of Local 159 of AFSCME District Council 33, said. “He wouldn’t complain about anything. It’s sad that this happened to him.”
Upper Darby police released a surveillance image of a person of interest in the case. Detectives are hoping someone will recognize the person based on their ripped jeans and high-end sneakers.
Police said someone called 911 Sunday evening after they heard shots fired. Upon initial investigation, police responded to the Wendy’s across the street from the mosque and there was a delay in locating the actual scene of the crime.
When they finally located the area where the shooting took place, police found Rahman suffering from a gunshot wound to his chest. He was later pronounced dead on the scene.
Detectives believe Rahman was a victim of a carjacking. Police said Rahman arrived at the mosque to pray, but he never made it inside.
“The person who’s responsible for this is a coward, a coward in every possible word that you could describe a coward,” Timothy Bernhardt, the superintendent of the Upper Darby Police Department, said. “He could have taken that car and left Mr. Rahman there. He didn’t. He chose to take his life.”
Worshippers said they believe Rahman refused to give up his car keys, which led to the shooting, but Bernhardt couldn’t confirm.
There were no other witnesses to the shooting, either.
Rahman’s stolen Toyota RAV4 was abandoned by the suspect and recovered by police on Cecil Street in West Philadelphia.
“What happened last night was just unconscionable,” State Sen. Tim Kearney said. “And there’s no indication that it was specifically a hate crime, but that doesn’t really matter.”
There is nothing to suggest that this shooting was a hate crime or bias based on the victim’s membership with the mosque, police said. Detectives believe this was a random act of violence, but congregants are now afraid.
“I don’t feel safe, you know? Because it’s a confidence area and this happens, I have kids,” Tarek Yasin, a worshipper, said.
The mosque is planning to add armed guards during prayer service.
Upper Darby police will increase its presence to help worshipers feel safe.
Source: CBS News