Crest Inn Suites & Cottages

State Police believe a man who died recently at Crest Inn Suites & Cottages in Wilton was killed by a bullet fired through a wall in the motel. On Monday, Daniel A. Salas-Miranda, 40, pleaded guilty to two felonies and will serve up to 10 years in prison.

WILTON — Relatives of the man who was shot to death in a Wilton motel room are questioning the police account of what happened to him, saying many of the facts don’t add up.

They believe the tragic limousine crash involving the motel’s owner played a part in the killing.

Michael Kornacki, 61, was found dead Oct. 10 in a room at Crest Inn & Suites on Route 9. A State Police investigation concluded that he was killed by a round from a small-caliber handgun that hit him in the abdomen. He was a self-employed contractor who had been staying at the motel for an extended period of time.

Investigators believe the shot was fired from an adjacent room by a resident who claimed the gun discharged inadvertently. State Police detained him, and he has been jailed on weapons and immigration charges in the weeks since as investigators and Saratoga County prosecutors determine whether homicide charges should be filed. His name has not been released.

A relative of Kornacki’s, who spoke on the condition his name not be published, said Kornacki’s family has had a hard time believing that he could have been shot accidentally in his motel room less than a day after the horrific limousine crash that killed 20 people. Police believe the shooting happened early the morning of Oct. 7.

The owner of the motel, Shahed Hussain, also owns Prestige Limousine, which operated the limo that careened off a state highway in Schoharie on Oct. 6, killing the driver, 17 passengers and two bystanders. Hussain’s son has been charged with criminally negligent homicide, and a massive state and federal investigation is ongoing.

Kornacki’s relative said the circumstances of the shooting as police have portrayed them don’t make sense, because the bullet had to pass not only through a wall but also a metal refrigerator before striking Kornacki on the side with enough velocity to kill him. There is no explanation as to how he could have lain in his bed for days, bleeding to death, without trying to get help, or why no one from the motel cleaned or checked his room for days, he said.

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Relatives believe Kornacki could have had information about the Hussain family’s activities stemming from his stay at the motel and could have been shot intentionally. The FBI could have been protecting its longtime terrorism informant, Shahed Hussain, they say.

“It’s the family’s belief that Michael’s murder was a loose end that was tied up hours after the bus crash to prevent his testifying about all the shady activities and bookkeeping at the motel/limo company,” the relative said.

Relatives have tried to meet with police to get answers to their questions, but have gotten little response, he said.

State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Capt. Richard O’Brien said investigators planned to meet with Kornacki’s relatives and are confident an arrest will be made for his death.

He acknowledged the “timing (of the shooting) was suspect” in light of the limousine crash, but said it was believed the shooting was accidental.

“There is absolutely no relationship whatsoever to the limousine investigation,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said the investigation was ongoing as of Wednesday. Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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reporter - crimes & courts, public safety and Warren County government

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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