Queens man attacks worshipers at Jamaica mosque
Apr 26, 2016 | 3006 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Police arresting 26-year-old Michael Voyard for allegedly attacking multiple worshipers at Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens.
Police arresting 26-year-old Michael Voyard for allegedly attacking multiple worshipers at Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens.
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Elected officials and community leaders denounce the attack as a hate crime.
Elected officials and community leaders denounce the attack as a hate crime.
slideshow
Members of the Queens Muslim community and elected officials gathered to denounce hate after 26-year-old Michael Voyard attacked multiple worshipers at the Jamaica Muslim Center last week.

According to police, Voyard entered the mosque at 85-37 168th Street around 1:30 p.m. and struck a 46-year-old and a 69-year-old man, then fled the scene.

Police were able to find the suspect on the field at nearby Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School.

When approached by officers, the man removed his clothes and ran naked down the street before police were able to take him into custody. He was transported from the scene to Queens General Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

Police believe that he may have taken some type of narcotics, possibly a mixture of synthetic marijuana and cocaine.

“Attacking innocent people is unacceptable,” said Mohammad Rahman, president of Jamaica Muslim Center, at a rally three days after the attack. “It absolutely should be considered a hate crime that our Muslim brothers and sisters were attacked by a stranger while praying.”

Muslim leaders pointed to the rhetoric of some presidential candidates, and said that bias towards the Muslim community is leading increasingly to violent incidents like the one last week.

“The recent incident at JMC fits a pattern of increased hate-motivated crimes and bias incidents nationwide targeting Mosques,” said Akhter Hussain of Jamaica Muslim Center. “A hate crime is a crime against humanity. An attack against one of us is an attack against all.”

Obaid Hoque, who has been attending Jamaica Muslim Center his whole life, said he knows Voyard and had a different take, saying he believes that he was looking for guidance at the center but personal problems plus the narcotics he was on led to the violent episode.

Hoque expained that Voyard is a married man with a kid and has been going through marital issues.

“Even prior to him coming into the mosque, he was speaking to another person, saying 'I need a copy of the Quaran,'” Hoque said. “I think what he was trying to do was look for guidance.”

Hoque said that worshipers don't break during the Zuhr prayer, which is when Voyard entered, so the lack of attention combined with the drugs may have caused the aggression.

“Obviously nobody is going to break out of prayer so I don't think he knew what was happening during that moment,” Hoque said. “I guess it triggered more of his aggression.”

Hoque said he does not believe it was a hate crime.

“I know this dude, I played ball with him,” he said, “This is just not his character. It's not a hate crime, he was just dealing with his own demons.”

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