By Steve Mosco
A man described by his roommate as a recently divorced Libyan war refugee was arrested and charged with murder in the stabbing death of a 28-year-old man on Friday night, the NYPD said.
According to police, Wahid Elawame, 35, of Astoria, was charged in the stabbing death of Mrwan Said in an apartment above a Steinway Street hookah cafe. Police said Elawame faces counts of murder, kidnapping and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the stabbing that occurred at his apartment around 11:30 p.m.
The incident took place on the third floor of an apartment building above Layali Beirut, a lounge at 25-60 Steinway St.
Mohamed Mohamed, who shared the apartment with Elawame and two other men, said he heard two crashes on the roof while he was working at the first-floor hookah cafe. When he went outside to investigate, he saw two of his roommates crying on the second-floor roof below the apartment.
“They jumped out to get away,” he said. “They said he [Elawame] stabbed the man.”
According to police, when officers arrived they found Elawame sitting at the murder scene inside the apartment, smoking a cigarette.
Elawame allegedly stabbed the victim after an altercation, according to police at the 114th Precinct. The New York Post reported the fight erupted after Said allegedly backed out of a plot to kill Elawame’s boss.
Police said Said was taken with a stab wound in the torso to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Mohamed called Elawame violent and said he did not trust him.
“He [Elawame] didn’t have the right frame of mind,” said Mohamed, 53, who said the suspect’s divorce and the conflict in Libya added to his rage.
“He was under a lot of stress, but he was not normal,” he said. “He had problems at home [in Libya] and it made him very angry.”
Antonia Grancelli, 20, lives on the second floor and heard someone scream at the time of the murder.
“A man jumped from the window crying and screaming, ‘He’s getting killed,’” she said. “One of the guys who jumped was holding his arm like it was broken. My sister called the police.”
Police said they took a suspect into custody early Saturday morning and identified Elawame as the man who had been arrested later in the afternoon.
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.