BURR RIDGE — St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church has received hundreds of calls since murder charges were filed last week against a person who frequented the church and had helped some members with letters seeking political asylum in the United States.
Connections between the church and Michael Bassaly, the man accused of shooting his mother, Yvonne Bassaly, to death in the Burr Ridge church parking lot Aug. 29, began to emerge shortly after Pastor Samuel T. Samuel’s spoke with reporters outside the church that morning.
Samuels and church attorney Rebecca Michaels said at the time neither Bassaly had any connection to the church, though they may have visited. But Mary Alexande-Basta, a church member, told The Doings that Bassaly, who at one time was a law student, had been helping members of the church with paperwork needed to gain legal status in the United States.
Additionally, Ahmes Sawiris, a former member of St. Mark, said when the mother and son first came to the area, they stayed in housing either owned by the church or owned by a church member.
Michaels said Tuesday that Bassaly occasionally visited the church, perhaps to drum up business for the business that apparently led to an investigation by Homeland Security.
Like Michaels, who is a licensed attorney, Bassaly was in business helping people seeking asylum from Egypt. She said she began receiving calls about a month ago from Egyptians concerned about the service they had obtained from Bassaly, who by all accounts is not a licensed attorney but might have presented himself as such.
“I encouraged them to file a complaint with the Chicago asylum office,” she said.
Even more calls are coming her way since the shooting, from church members and other Egyptians who fear they were falsely represented.
“I am getting hundreds of calls a day,” Michaels said.
Michaels said Tuesday that Samuel’s comment last week that the shooting “had nothing to do with us,” was an attempt to assure people it was not a crime against Egyptians or against Christians, Michaels said.
“Coptic Christians are persecuted all over the world,” Michaels said.
She said Samuel was making it clear that what occurred in the parking lot was not a hate crime.
“That is what he meant,” she said.
Michaels could not confirm nor deny reports that the Bassalys once lived in an apartment the church provides to new immigrants in need.
Staff writer Kimberly Fornek contributed to this aritcle.