QUEENS — A leader of the U.S. chapter of the Bangladeshi ruling party and father of two was choked and beaten to death near a club in Ozone Park last week, police and family said.
Nazmul Islam, 55, of Richmond Hill, recently returned from a monthlong trip to his native Bangladesh, where he met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League, according to his family and published reports.
Islam, who came to the United States more than three decades ago, worked as a yellow cab driver for more than 20 years, his son, Onik, 24, said.
A divorcee, he lived with his mother and sister in Ozone Park, while his son and 22-year-old daughter Rebecca lived with their mother in Astoria.
“He loved people and he was very important in our community,” his son said.
Onik Islam said that his father, who was vice president of the U.S. chapter of the Awami League, was very involved in the local Bangladeshi community and during his last trip to Bangladesh he had met with the country’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina. The nature of the meeting was not clear.
“I’m still in shock,” said Onik Islam, who studies finance at Queens College. “It still doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Onik Islam said he was very close with his father, even though they had not lived together for several years.
“He was a great father,” he said. “He lived to give us a better future. That’s all he lived for.”
Police said that Islam was found laying on the street at 76th Street and Atlantic Avenue in Ozone Park last Wednesday around 4:30 a.m., after a passerby called 911. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner's Office, Julie Bolcer, said that Islam's death was caused by blunt force injuries of head and compression of neck.
Earlier that night, sources said, Islam was at a night club on Atlantic Avenue and 78th Street, where he first encountered his attackers.
Sources said that Islam confronted the men, who he believed may have stolen his car.
The men became agitated, sources said, and later followed Islam after he left the club and confronted him about four blocks away. They beat him, stole his wallet and fled, police sources said.
The suspects were arrested on Monday in Richmond Hill for disorderly conduct and criminal possession of a controlled substance, police said.
According to the criminal complaints, Rodriguez and Genno were walking in the middle of the street, forcing cars to swerve around them. Police also found a small quantity of MDMA, a drug commonly known as Molly, on them, the complaint said.
Investigators later connected them to the fatal beating, based on their interviews with witnesses and the suspects, the complaints said.
According to the complaints, the suspects told investigators that they "planned to commit a robbery" on Islam, and in order to do that they "punched and choked" the victim.
Police said that Rodriguez had about 15 prior arrests, beginning with a robbery in 2007. The most recent arrest was in June this year for burglary. He had also been arrested for forcible touching, criminal trespass and criminal possession of stolen property, among other charges, police said.
The suspects were arraigned on Wednesday morning. They were ordered held without bail on the murder charge, according to the Queens District Attorney's office, and are due back in court on July 31.
Genno was also charged in an unrelated case of assault on a teenage boy as well as with statutory rape for having sex with a 16-year old girl.
The men face up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of murder.
Genno's attorney declined to comment. Rodriguez's lawyer did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Islam was buried last Friday at Washington Memorial Park in Long Island, his family said.