Home / Top Story / Killer of Queens imam and friend charged with murder

Killer of Queens imam and friend charged with murder

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Updated: Monday, August 15, 2016, 11:54 PM

Cops searching the home of a man suspected of gunning down a Queens imam and his friend, found a revolver and clothes Monday that matched what the shooter wore in a video of the attack, sources said.

The discovery led to second-degree murder charges against 35-year-old Oscar Morel, in a shooting carried out execution-style Saturday, in the heat of a summer afternoon, police said.

Morel, who lives in a basement apartment in East New York, Brooklyn, and is believed to work in a food supply warehouse or a restaurant in the area, was spotted on surveillance footage in Ozone Park around the time of the brazen shooting, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

Police said witnesses saw his black Chevy TrailBlazer flee the scene of the shooting.

Suspected Queens shooter of Imam and friend nabbed by cops

“We believe, because of the evidence we’ve acquired thus far, that we strongly believe this is the individual,” Boyce said.

Oscar Morel is removed from the 107th Precinct after he was charged with murder on Monday.

Oscar Morel is removed from the 107th Precinct after he was charged with murder on Monday.

(Bryan Pace/for New York Daily News)

The suspected killer — who carried out the shooting with ruthless efficiency, blasting both Maulama Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 65, at close range in the head around 1:50 p.m. Saturday — became reckless after pulling the trigger, police said.

Ten minutes after the pious men were shot three times total, the driver of the TrailBlazer and a cyclist exchanged words at the intersection of Pine St. and Pitkin Ave. in East New York, police said.

The cyclist then rode away, but the driver pursued and rammed him, cops said.

Queens imam, assistant fatally shot after leaving mosque

The hit-and-run occurred 3 miles from the shooting. The cyclist was not seriously hurt, according to cops.

Boyce said the same TrailBlazer was used to flee the shooting and hit the cyclist.

“They were identical. We looked at the stickers, the decals, on each of the windshields. . . identical,” Boyce said.

That match led investigators to Morel’s home.

When detectives from the NYPD’s Fugitive Task Force approached him after he got into his TrailBlazer at 10 p.m. Sunday, Morel used it as a weapon again, Boyce said.

Members of Al-Furqan Jame Mosque show a sketch of the suspect.

Members of Al-Furqan Jame Mosque show a sketch of the suspect.

(Craig Ruttle/AP)

“He rammed the detectives’ car several times in an effort to get away. He was placed under arrest without any further incident,” Boyce said.

Morel, who has one prior arrest — for misdemeanor pot possession — admitted to having been in Ozone Park, a police source said. But he asked for a lawyer when cops queried him about the killings.

He had no known links to Ozone Park or the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque. The motive remained a mystery.

“Right now, we can’t explain why this person was there. He was there just prior to (the shooting). We have him on video about eight minutes prior to the homicide,” Boyce said.

Detectives were also working a theory that somebody hired Morel as a hit man.

Morel was awaiting arraignment overnight as cops continued to pore over his TrailBlazer, home and search his cell phone.

His brother Alvin Morel was stunned to learn the news.

“This is nothing like him. My brother is a decent person,” he insisted. “I don’t know what happened. I’ve been trying to reach him all day.”

AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS HANDOUT PHOTO TO BE USED SOLELY TO ILLUSTRATE NEWS REPORTING OR COMMENTARY ON THE FACTS OR EVENTS DEPICTED IN THIS IMAGE. THIS IMAGE MAY ONLY BE USED FOR 14 DAYS FROM TIME OF TRANSMISSION; NO ARCHIVING; NO LICENSING. MANDATORY CR

Imam Maulama Akonjee was gunned down in broad daylight, along with his friend, Thara Uddin.

(Abdul Chowdhury/AP)

Oscar Morel’s landlord said he moved in about seven months ago and was a quiet tenant.

“He had a girlfriend, but he lives alone, he was always very nice. He told me he works cleaning in a school,” said Amado Baptista, 59.

“I don’t understand how he could have done anything like this,” he said.

Tags:
gun violence
nypd
ozone park
hate crimes
new york murders

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