By ESTEBAN PARRA • The News Journal • June 4, 2008
A 58-year-old Whitehall, Pa., man charged with fatally shooting a church deacon during a Memorial Day Weekend fundraiser waived his preliminary hearing Tuesday in Wilmington's Court of Common Pleas.
By passing on his hearing, Monir A. George's murder case moves to Superior Court, which handles the more serious felonies. George was not present for his hearing.
According to police and witnesses, George walked into a banquet May 25 at the Hilton Wilmington/Christiana in Stanton. The event was held by St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church of Delaware, which is preparing to build a church in Newark.
About 80 people, including children, had just finished listening to 63-year-old Malak Michael speak on the fundraising progress when George approached Michael, who headed a committee charged with building a new church.
Witnesses said Michael opened his arms to embrace George, who pulled two semi-automatic pistols from his suit and opened fire, striking Michael in the chest.
George tried to fire the second gun but it malfunctioned, police said.
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 the Rev. Mina Mina, of St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church, blamed George's personal demons. He said George had been divorced and was angry with the Coptic Orthodox faith. George was not a member of St. Mary's congregation.
Police said George had eight loaded magazines and more than 150 rounds of ammunition when they arrested him.
Contact Esteban Parra at 324-2299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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