Police surveillance cameras, top, is placed on a light post overlooking the area of the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque at Bedford and Fulton Streets, Friday Aug. 19, 2016, in Brooklyn, N.Y. The recent daytime slayings of an imam and his friend has forced New York City’s Muslim community to confront issues of surveillance and privacy. Bebeto Matthews / AP

Investigators developed a strong lead in the shootings following an unrelated hit-and-run of a bicyclist in Brooklyn 10 minutes after the double murder, NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton said at a news conference last Monday.

On surveillance video, detectives identified a black GMC Trailblazer fleeing the scene of the shooting in a “quick fashion” and also identified the person running into the vehicle, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at the same news conference.

Detectives then searched a police database for that car and came up with a hit-and-run that occurred one mile away at around 2 p.m., according to Boyce and prosecutors. Video pulled from that street corner revealed that the two cars were identical, Boyce said.

Officers found the car near where the hit-and-run took place and kept watch over it until around 10 p.m. Aug. 14, when Morel emerged and got into the SUV, Boyce said.

“Detectives from the fugitive task force approached the car and then he rammed the detectives’ car several times in an effort to get away,” Boyce said.


Police Hunt Suspect in Killing of New York City Imam and Assistant

Schwed, however, offered a different version of events.

“[Morel] told me, people with guns came running at him,” Schwed said. “So I guess the cops were not in uniform. He got scared and tried to drive away because he thought he was going to be robbed…and they fired shots at his car, which I will try to verify.”

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Schwed’s claim.

Morel is due back in court on Sept. 1, when he will be arraigned on the five-count indictment and enter a plea. If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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