Thursday, May 29, 2008

Slaying suspect had no record

Monir A. George has been charged with first degree murder.
Man angry over divorce, priest says
By TERRI SANGINITI and ESTEBAN PARRA • The News Journal • May 28, 2008
Veterinarian Monir A. George did not have a history of trouble with the law, according to police in his Pennsylvania hometown.
That is, until the 58-year-old Whitehall, Pa., resident allegedly gunned down a church leader Sunday night in front of 80 people at a fundraising event in the banquet room of the Christiana Hilton, near Stanton. George is charged with the first-degree murder of Malak Michael, 63, of Bear, a prominent member of St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church of Delaware, the only Egyptian Christian church in the state.

"We know Monir George, but he's been somewhat of an unremarkable sort, at least until Sunday," Whitehall Police Chief Ted Kohuth said.

Kohuth said George has not been in trouble with the law and Whitehall police had no recent problems at the veterinary clinic he ran on the north end of Macarthur Road, a major shopping district in the Lehigh Valley.

In 2001, he was reprimanded by the Pennsylvania Board of Veterinary Medicine and fined $500 for failing to keep the equipment and premises of his AAA Animal Clinic in a clean and sanitary condition.
A year earlier, the clinic was burglarized twice. Police said the thieves were after the drug ketamine, also known as "Special K."

The animal tranquilizer is chemically related to PCP and can produce hallucinations, which makes it a popular party drug for young adults who attend raves.
The burglaries were followed by an extortion attempt in which George received a letter demanding more of the drug and threatening to firebomb the clinic.

George took the letter to police, who put the clinic under surveillance and arrested four people.
On Sunday, George, a former member of the St. Mary congregation who had not attended services for five years, showed up at the fundraiser in Stanton, about an hour and a half from his Pennsylvania home.

Michael, the head of a committee charged with building a new church, had just given attendees an update on the success of the church's fundraising project when, police say, George confronted him inside the banquet hall.
Police said George pulled out two 9 mm Smith & Wesson handguns, firing once at Michael, fatally wounding him in the chest.

George allegedly tried to fire the second gun but it malfunctioned.
Three members of Michael's family overpowered George after he fired two more shots that struck no one, police said.

Police have not announced a motive for the shooting, but Father Mina Mina, of St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church, blamed George's personal demons. He said George had just been divorced and was angry with the church.
Police found eight loaded magazines and more than 150 rounds of ammunition on George when they arrested him. He remains at Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington and faces a June 3 preliminary hearing in the Court of Common Pleas.

A church service for Michael is scheduled at noon Thursday at Saints Peter and Paul Parish, 1406 Philadelphia Pike in Wilmington. Burial will be at All Saints Cemetery, 6001 Kirkwood Highway.

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