New School worker arrested in Muslims’ slaying

The casket of one of the victims of the Aug. 13 Queens shooting is loaded into a hearse after the Aug. 18 memorial service.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | The shocking murder of a Queens imam and his assistant on Sat., Aug. 13, held an added shock for The New School, when police arrested a suspect in the killings who works at the Greenwich Village university.

Oscar Morel, 35, who lives in East New York, Brooklyn, was walked out of the 107th Precinct in Queens by detectives on Monday. He was wearing a light-tan work short with “Oscar” stitched on the right breast in red lettering and “The New School Facilities Management” on the left breast.

The New School issued a terse statement, saying, “Oscar Morel has been a porter at The New School since November 2013. While we are unable to comment on his arrest, we are cooperating fully with the authorities in this matter.”

The school declined further comment.

Some of the crowd at the memorial for the double murder victims, which has shocked the local Bengali and the city’s broader Muslim community. Photos by Q. Sakamaki

Police would not say where and exactly when Morel was arrested.

On Tuesday, Morel’s charges were upgraded from second-degree to first-degree murder.

The Daily News reported that one friend of Morel’s was stunned by the allegations. He said he had never heard Morel, whom he saw two weeks ago at a family function, say anything disparaging about Muslims.

“He’s a good guy,” the friend said. “He never messes with anybody. I don’t believe he could do it.”

But a neighbor described Morel as “silent” and “weird.”

Muslims protested Aug. 18 in Brooklyn after a memorial service held for an imam and another Muslim man who five days earlier were gunned down in Ozone Park, Queens, after leaving a mosque. Police subsequently arrested a suspect in the double homicide — a 35-year-old maintenance worker at Greenwich Village’s New School.

Police did not immediately give an exact motive for the double murder. Morel is accused of coming up behind Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 64 — both Bengali immigrants — who had just left their mosque, and pumping bullets into the backs of their heads.

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the two slain men’s memorial service, vowing that the city would beef up the police presence in the area.