Oscar Morel, who killed imam and his friend, indicted; Motive remains unclear
Fourth Estate Staff
Queens, NY, United States (4E) – Oscar Morel, the man who is the suspect in the killing of an Imam and his friend in Queens, was indicted on Monday but his motive in the crime remains unclear.
Morel, 36, was not at the Queens Criminal Court when prosecutors announced that his indictment was ready. He is alleged of killing the Imam, Maulama Akonjee , and his friend, Thara Uddin . The incident took place on August 13 in Ozone Park in Queens.
Morel now faces one count for first-degree murder, two counts for second-degree murder, and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
According to the attorney of Morel, Michael Schwed , he said that his client’s presence was not needed during the announcement of the indictment. Morel will be in court this September 1.
Officials were led to Morel after surveillance videos showed him being at the scene of the crime. Also, ballistic tests proved that the revolver found in his East New York home were the same as the bullets taken from the victims. Authorities said that Morel approached Akonjee and Uddin from behind then shot them in the head.
Morel said in a statement, “It wasn’t me. I just want to say I like all types of religions.” Schwed also said that they are to see the potential identification of other suspects as per witnesses’ statements. He pointed out that as per the police sketch, the man shown wore eyeglasses. His client, however, reportedly stopped wearing glasses years ago as he switched to contact lenses.
Schwed added that Morel told him he has no idea why the gun was in his apartment and denied that he owns the weapon. More did say that he drove through the area where the killings took place on that Saturday but it was to take a friend to a medical appointment.
District attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement, “The defendant’s alleged actions strike at the very heart of our county’s Muslim community. Both victims were gentlemen of peace, and their deaths are a devastating loss to their families and the community that they served.”
Some of the Muslims believed that the killing of the imam and his friend was the result of anti-Muslim rhetoric, specifically that from GOP nominee Donald Trump. The motive remains unclear.