EW GARDENS, Queens — Shackled, 35-year-old Oscar Morel said nothing as he was arraigned Tuesday for the cold blooded murder of two Muslim men from Ozone Park, Queens last weekend.
Six members of Morel’s family sat in the courtroom, quietly, Morel’s mother with her hands clasped to her mouth, in disbelief as prosecutors laid out their evidence against her son.
Morel is charged with 1st and 2nd degree murder.
Prosecutors said they recovered a revolver from Morel’s East New York basement apartment. Ballistic tests show the bullets that killed the Imam of an Ozone Park mosque, Maulana Akonjee and his friend Thara Uddin, came from that same gun, allegedly Morel’s.
Prosecutors called the crime nothing short of a pre-meditated assassination.
Numerous cameras, prosecutors said, showed Morel as the man who pumped several bullets into the victims. Morel’s chevy Trailblazer even identified at several more locations as he was allegedly trying to get away from the scene of the murder. At one point even involved in a hit and run on Pine Street and Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn, then even hitting an unmarked police vehicle.
In a Facebook post, Morel’s brother Alvin posted his disbelief over his brother’s arrest.
Morel was not granted bail and will appear back in court on August 18 to change his current attorney to a homicide attorney.
Victim Thara Uddin’s brother, Mashuk Uddin said, “I want to ask him when I see him in the court, I want to ask him why he killed my brother.”
That is the only question left for the family members of the victims. Many telling PIX11 they are relieved there is an arrest, but still have no insight into why two men described as religious, respected members of the community would be targeted.
Despite pleas from the Bangladeshi Muslim community in Queens to prosecute the double murder as a hate crime, the Queens District Attorney’s office did not go that far but did add they are still investigating the theory as a possibility. Some community members claimed there were years of tension between several minority groups in Ozone Park, but others were quick to dispel those concerns.
Reverend David Maldonado, a member of the local clergy in Brooklyn has been working closely with all communities there to bring them together, even speaking to the Morel family who told him they know the Bangladeshi and Muslim community there are peaceful people.
Akonjee’s son was also in the courtroom during Morel’s arraignment. Speaking in his native language of Bengali he told PIX11’s Narmeen Choudhury he was at a loss for words and that his family was torn apart. Akonjee says he still believes at times that his father is still alive.
Three members of the Akonjee family, he said, were traveling on a Tuesday evening flight to Bangladesh to bury his father.