RELIGION

The Latest: Motive in imam slaying still under investigation

  • Saif Akonjee, son of Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee, center, Mashuk Uddin, brother of Thara Uddin, right, and other members of the community are surrounded by reporters as they arrives to a Queens courthouse in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016.  Oscar Morel suspected of gunning down the imam and his friend as they left a New York City mosque was arrested and charged with murder late Monday night, said police, who have not yet released a motive for the shooting deaths. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    Saif Akonjee, son of Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee, center, Mashuk Uddin, brother of Thara Uddin, right, and other members of the community are surrounded by reporters as they arrives to a Queens courthouse in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Oscar Morel suspected of gunning down the imam and his friend as they left a New York City mosque was arrested and charged with murder late Monday night, said police, who have not yet released a motive for the shooting deaths. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)  (The Associated Press)

  • Saif Akonjee, son of Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee, is surrounded by reporters as he arrives to a Queens courthouse in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Oscar Morel suspected of gunning down the imam and his friend as they left a New York City mosque was arrested and charged with murder late Monday night, said police, who have not yet released a motive for the shooting deaths. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    Saif Akonjee, son of Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee, is surrounded by reporters as he arrives to a Queens courthouse in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Oscar Morel suspected of gunning down the imam and his friend as they left a New York City mosque was arrested and charged with murder late Monday night, said police, who have not yet released a motive for the shooting deaths. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)  (The Associated Press)

  • This photo, released by the New York City Police Department , Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. shows a .38 caliber Taurus revolver that has been recovered in connection with the shooting of Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and Thara Uddin, who were shot in the head Saturday afternoon as they walked home from a mosque. (New York City Police Department via AP)

    This photo, released by the New York City Police Department , Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. shows a .38 caliber Taurus revolver that has been recovered in connection with the shooting of Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and Thara Uddin, who were shot in the head Saturday afternoon as they walked home from a mosque. (New York City Police Department via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The latest on the arrest in the killing of an imam and his friend as they left a New York City mosque (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

A prosecutor says the motive for a shooting that claimed the lives of a New York City imam and his friend is still being investigated.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Tuesday that it's possible investigators will conclude that the weekend shooting was a hate crime. But he says regardless of whether that's the case, the killings will be "vigorously prosecuted."

Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and Thara Uddin were shot in the head Saturday afternoon as they walked home from the mosque.

The suspect, Oscar Morel, was awaiting a court appearance Tuesday on first- and second-degree murder charges. There was no immediate information on an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

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2 a.m.

A man suspected of gunning down an imam and his friend as they left a New York City mosque has been arrested and charged with murder, as police investigate a motive for the killings.

Police charged 35-year-old Oscar Morel with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon late Monday.

He's accused in the Saturday slayings of Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and Thara Uddin near a mosque in Queens.

Officers took Morel into custody late Sunday outside a Brooklyn apartment as he approached a vehicle that police had linked to an unrelated hit-and-run and that matched the description of the shooting suspect's getaway vehicle. That's when police say Morel intentionally rammed his vehicle into an unmarked police cruiser.

It's unclear if Morel has an attorney.