Suspected New York imam killer charged with murder: police
Oscar Morel, a 35-year-old Brooklyn man,was charged with two counts of murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, NYPD detective Hubert Reyes told AFP.
Fearful Muslim New Yorkers have demanded stepped-up security and justice as hundreds of mourners attended the two men’s funeral service in the borough of Queens.
Maulama Akonjee, 55, who migrated to the United States from Bangladesh, and his friend, 64-year-old Thara Uddin, were shot dead in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon in the Ozone Park neighborhood.
Morel was taken into custody on Sunday, the NYPD told AFP.
Following his detention, he was charged with a hit-and-run that took place three miles (about five kilometers) away from the double murder and the assault of a police officer, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told a news conference.
The murder charges were added later Monday after police recovered a gun and clothing from his house that were similar to those believed used by the shooter, US media reported.
Morel was known to have been in the area of the double murder eight minutes before the homicide and took off directly afterward, Boyce said.
Police said Morel was from East New York, a troubled area of Brooklyn, and was believed to have a job in a warehouse.
Authorities had earlier said hate crime was being investigated as a possible motive — as demanded by Muslim elders — but did not provide any information on the suspect’s motives Monday evening.
The New York Daily News quoted police sources as saying the killer may have been settling a score in a feud between Muslims and Hispanics, suggestions that have been dismissed by members of the Muslim community.
“We want justice, we want justice, we want justice,” chanted Muslim elders at a chaotic news conference before Monday’s funeral.