New York Imam Shooting Suspect Arrested on Murder Charges

NEW YORK (AP) — Police charged a man late Monday night with murder in the brazen daytime shooting deaths of an imam and his friend as they left a New York City mosque over the weekend.

Oscar Morel, 35, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.

Charges against the Brooklyn man were upgraded after police said they recovered a revolver at his home and clothes similar to those being worn in a surveillance video that showed the gunman.

Morel was taken into custody on Sunday after police said he hit a bicyclist 10 minutes after Saturday’s shooting in Queens. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the charges.

Morel can be seen on the surveillance video fleeing the area of the shooting in a black GMC Trailblazer just after Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and Thara Uddin were shot, said the New York Police Department’s chief of detectives, Robert Boyce.

About 10 minutes later, a car matching that description struck a bicyclist about three miles away in Brooklyn, he said.

Morel was arrested late Sunday night outside a Brooklyn apartment after intentionally ramming his car into an unmarked police cruiser trying to block him in, Boyce said.

The arrest was announced just hours after about 1,000 people gathered under tents to praise Akonjee, 55, and Uddin, 64, in an Islamic funeral service where emotions ran high.

The ceremony featured several speakers who said they believed the victims were targeted because of their religion. Some members of the congregation shouted, “Justice!” periodically throughout the service.

After the ceremony, part of the crowd marched to the spot a few blocks away where the shooting took place.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, told those gathered that the entire city was “mourning with you.”

Authorities did not release a motive for the killings, though Boyce said the possibility that the murders were a hate crime is “certainly on the table.”

Some in the largely Bangladeshi Muslim community in Queens and Brooklyn have described harassment in recent months by people who shouted anti-Muslim epithets.

 

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the fatal shootings of a New York City mosque leader and his associate (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

Police say they’ve recovered a revolver from the home of a man being questioned in connection to the killing of a New York imam and his friend.

Police said Monday night they also found clothing in the man’s home similar to that being worn in a surveillance video that shows the gunman.

The 36-year-old man is being held on charges he struck a bicyclist 10 minutes after Saturday’s shooting in Queens near a mosque.

Authorities don’t know what prompted the brazen daytime shooting of Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and Thara Uddin.

___

6:30 p.m.

Police say they’re fairly certain they’ve arrested a man who killed a New York imam and his friend.

The NYPD’s chief of detective tells reporters on Monday the 36-year-old man is being held on charges he struck a bicyclist 10 minutes after the shooting.

Robert Boyce didn’t release the man’s name. He hasn’t been charged in the double slaying.

But Boyce says surveillance footage shows the man speeding away from the scene of the Saturday shooting near a Queens mosque in a black GMC Trailblazer.

He says 10 minutes later, that car also struck a bicyclist 3 miles away in Brooklyn.

Detectives arrested the man Sunday night in the hit-and-run accident.

Authorities don’t know what prompted the daytime shooting of Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and Thara Uddin.

___

4 p.m.

Passions ran hot at a funeral service for a slain imam and his friend who were shot by an unidentified gunman near their mosque.

About 1,000 people, including New York City’s mayor, gathered Monday for the prayer service for Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and Thara Uddin.

The motive of the gunman remains unknown, but the ceremony featured several speakers who said they believed the victims were targeted because of their religion.

Some members of the congregation shouted, “Justice!” periodically throughout the service.

After the ceremony, part of the crowd marched to the spot a few blocks away where the shooting took place.

Police investigating the slayings have detained a man as part of an attempt to identify a vehicle seen leaving the scene of the shooting.

___

2:30 p.m.

The funeral for Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and Thara Uddin is being held in a municipal parking lot, about six blocks from the crime scene.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the service Monday that Muslims make New York better and stronger. The crowd applauded when he said that whoever committed the crime would be brought to justice. He also said the community will get extra police protection.

Emotions ran high. Some people shouted for justice as a man spoke at the podium.

Authorities said earlier Monday that investigators had detained and questioned a man as part of an attempt to identify a vehicle seen leaving the scene of the shooting.


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