Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Slaying suspect was angry at church

Police and emergency personnel gather Sunday evening at the Hilton Wilmington/Christiana on Continental Drive after a fatal shooting at a church fundraising event held there.
Monir George, shown in a police photo taken Monday morning, is a veterinarian who lives above his practice on MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township, Pa., The Morning Call newspaper of Allentown reported today. The practice, AAA Animal Clinic, was not open today, the Call reported.
Delaware State Police

The Coptic Church is the ancient Christian church of Egypt. Based on the teachings of Saint Mark and established in Egypt the first century A.D., it played a key role in the development of early Christianity. The largest Christian group in Egypt, Coptics make up an estimated 10 percent of the population in the predominantly Muslim country.
Source: Encyclopaedia of the Orient
Priest: 'He came to do a massacre, to kill everyone'
By ESTEBAN PARRA • The News Journal • May 27, 2008

He was angry at the Coptic Orthodox Church.
That is why, members of Delaware's only Egyptian Christian church speculate, Monir George allegedly gunned down one of the church's founders during a family-oriented fundraiser Sunday night at the Hilton Wilmington/Christiana.

And, the church's pastor said, he may have meant to kill far more.
Malak Michael, 63, a prominent member of St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church of Delaware, reportedly reached out to greet the man now charged with his murder just before George allegedly drew two semi-automatic pistols from his suit and opened fire, striking Michael in the chest.

Members of Michael's family sitting nearby tackled George before the 58-year-old could harm others attending a banquet meant to raise money to build a church in Newark.
"He wasn't an enemy of Mr. Malak Michael," the Rev. Mina Mina, the church's priest, said of George, a former member of the church who, Mina said, had not attended services in at least five years. "My opinion, he came to do a massacre, to kill everyone. He wanted to kill everybody, kids, women, the men and everybody."

Mina said George had gone through a divorce recently and was angry at the entire Coptic Orthodox faith.
"He had the demon, he had the demon making him to think that building a church is something wrong," Mina said.

State police said George was carrying several loaded magazines in addition to the handguns.
Police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh would not speculate on George's intentions, but said "the fact that this individual had 150 rounds of ammunition, 10 magazines and two handguns speaks for itself."

Police had not determined Monday how he got the guns or if he had a permit for them.
George, of Whitehall Township, Pa., was charged Monday with first-degree murder and possession of firearms during commission of a felony. He was being held without bail at Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington.

"Any time you have a shooting, it's tragic," Whitmarsh said. "The tragedy doesn't necessarily change or increase from one event to another. But I think this is more shocking because no one obviously expects to see this at a church function."
After a speech, the horror

The fundraiser began at 5 p.m. Sunday inside the Hilton's Le Chameleon banquet room. About 80 people had come to the event, where there was to be food and a performance by the church's children, as well as a presentation by Michael on how the fundraising for the new building was going.

Michael headed the committee in charge of building a new church in Newark.
About 7 p.m., after the children performed, Michael gave his presentation and returned to his seat next to Mina, where the two were "enjoying a very happy moment," Mina said. That's when George approached them from behind.

George had not been expected at the event Sunday, but arrived alone and was allowed to enter.
By some accounts, Michael extended his arms to greet George as George drew two 9 mm Smith & Wesson pistols from his suit and fired three shots.

"When he shot Brother Malak, we thought it was an electric problem and we were saying, 'What was that?' " Mina said. "I saw sparks, but I thought that was electric. But then the second one came from behind also, making us realize there was some chaos and somebody with a gun."
At least one bullet struck Michael in the upper left chest, police said. George tried to fire the second gun, but it malfunctioned.

Three members of Michael's family rushed George, wrestling him to the floor. The first person to reach him was Michael's niece, Mina said.
"I don't know if she was necessarily aware of what happened when she did it," Whitmarsh said. "The way it was described to me is she just jumped out of reaction, looked up and saw what he had with him."

As George was subdued, Whitmarsh said, doctors attending the function moved quickly to treat Michael's wound.
Michael was taken to Christiana Hospital, where he died. George and one of the people who subdued him also were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Michael's oldest child, Sam, was at the fundraiser but said he had gone out to his car to get something when the shooting occurred. He learned something had happened when emergency crews started pulling into the parking lot and sealing off the hotel, located at 100 Continental Drive, off Churchmans Road.
"My dad was a very good man. He was very active in the church," said Sam Mikhail, who goes by his Egyptian surname. "There was nothing he had really done to provoke such an action out of anyone."

As George was removed from the scene, Mina said he heard him yelling.
"When he was taken to the hospital, he was saying, 'What do you think? You are going to build a new church?' And he started to curse," Mina said.

Michael a leader at church

On Monday, members of St. Mary's attended a special Mass in honor of Michael.
"They are being comforted with the Lord," Mina said of his congregation Monday. "Today, we had the Mass and that was a great comfort to us."

Michael, along with his wife and three children, moved from Cairo, Egypt, to Delaware in 1980.
An electrical engineer by trade, Michael rose to chief engineer with the Delaware Public Service Commission, his family said.

He joined St. Mary's soon after its founding in 1978, and helped it grow from a rented space in another church to a permanent home in Bear.
More recently, as the church moved again to a temporary home in Elkton, Md., Michael took a lead role in an effort to build a new, permanent church in Newark.

In addition to heading the fundraising committee, Michael was vice president of the church's board of directors and its head deacon.
"He really had a major part of the project on his hands," his son said. "It's a real blow to the entire church to have his role be empty at this point."

Groundbreaking on the new church had been expected soon.
After Monday's special Mass, church members made their way to Michael's home to console his family. The St. Mary congregation is a tightly knit community of Egyptian immigrants -- and their children and grandchildren -- living in Delaware, Maryland, South Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania.

"You always hear about these things," Mikhail said. "Things like this, when they happen, you never think that they can happen to you or the people you love."
Mikhail said he does not understand why this happened to his father.

"It sounded like somebody who went into that room with intent to harm many people and unfortunately my dad was in his sight," he said.
Mina said George's wife and children left him about 10 years ago. His divorce was finalized a few months ago.

"This person, instead of putting the blame on himself, he put the blame on the church in general," he said.
Contact Esteban Parra at 324-2299 or


Anonymous said...

Maybe he deserved it

Anonymous said...

seriously....i love people who make ridiculous comments behind the sheild of a computer screen. You are a class A coward.