NEW YORK (Diya TV) — A Brooklyn man was charged Monday with second-degree murder in the deaths of a New York Muslim imam and his assistant, who were gunned down over the weekend, a police spokesman said.
Oscar Morel, 35, of Brooklyn, was charged just hours after hundreds of mourners gathered to remember the fallen at an outdoor funeral for the two men. The killings, which occurred in the borough of Queens, left the neighborhood’s Bangladeshi community in shock.
Morel was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the killings of Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 64, a police spokesperson said. He was additionally charged with two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
A motive for the killings has not yet been released.
Morel had been questioned by police following his arrest on charges in a separate case on Saturday, the same day as the shootings. Akonjee and Uddin were shot in the head at close range after Saturday prayers at the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque in Queens’ Ozone Park section.
“We believe because of the evidence we have acquired thus far that … this is the individual,” New York City Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said when asked if he could reassure the rattled community.
During the funeral honoring the two men, speaker after speaker pleaded with police to investigate the matter as a hate crime and to step up efforts to protect mosques and parts of the city like Ozone Park where many Muslims live and work.
“We want justice,” Badrul Kahn, founder of the Al-Furqan mosque, shouted to the crowd in the service’s opening speech. “We want justice,” responded the mourners, most of them men dressed in Islamic garb.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio was in attendance at the funeral, and promised the city would bolster its police force in the neighborhood. This despite there remains no apparent motive for the killings.
Police had said earlier that there was no evidence the men were targeted because of their faith but nothing was being ruled out.