Man Convicted of Killing 3 Brooklyn Merchants
Gets 75 Years in Prison
By Rick Rojas - The New York Times
March 4, 2016
A traveling clothing salesman was sentenced on Friday to 75 years to
life in prison for killing three merchants in
Brooklyn in a series of attacks that had shopkeepers on alert for
months, prosecutors said.
The man, Salvatore Perrone, 67, of Staten Island, was convicted last
month in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn of three
counts of second-degree murder. Justice Alan D. Marrus sentenced Mr.
Perrone to the maximum penalty allowed.
In three attacks in 2012, the authorities said, Mr. Perrone went into
stores in Brooklyn around closing time, when the
merchants, who were all of Middle Eastern origin, were alone. He
opened fire with the same sawed-off rifle in each
attack. When he was arrested, he had been planning to attack again,
the police said.
“It’s hard to think of anyone who deserves to spend the rest of his
life in prison more than this coldblooded and
unrepentant serial killer,” Ken Thompson, the Brooklyn district
attorney, said in a statement on Friday.
During the sentencing hearing, Mr. Perrone maintained his innocence,
The series of shootings began on July 6, 2012, when Mohamed Gebeli,
65, was found inside his clothing store in the Bay
Ridge neighborhood with a single gunshot wound to the neck. On Aug. 2,
Isaac Kadare, 59, was shot in the head and his
throat was slit inside his store in Bensonhurst. And on Nov. 16,
Rahmatollah Vahidipour, 78, was shot in the head, face
and chest in his clothing shop in the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens
The shootings were connected by .22-caliber shell casings recovered at
'Son of Sal' serial killer Salvatore Perrone,
who gunned down three shopkeepers in Brooklyn, gets 75 years to life
BY Christina Carrega-Woodby - New York Daily News
Friday, March 4, 2016
The “Son of Sal” serial killer was sentenced to 75 years to life in
prison Friday for gunning down three shopkeepers in
Brooklyn — and the judge said he was “lucky” he wasn’t getting an even
“You’re lucky we don’t have the death penalty here in New York. You
would be a prime candidate,” Brooklyn Supreme Court
Justice Alan Marrus told Salvatore Perrone before he threw the book at
him for the 2012 murders of Isaac Kadare, 59,
Mohammad Gebeli, 65 and Rahmatollah Vahidipour, 78.
The victims’ relatives also unloaded on the psychotic Staten Island
“My father was a dedicated hardworking man, lived a life with dignity.
...God will punish you. You’re pathetic. You will
rot and die alone, loser,” said Vahidipour’s daughter, Marjan
Perrone turned and faced each victim as they spoke at the podium in
Brooklyn Supreme Court on Friday.
“I’ve known you for 20 years. ... I just want to ask him one question,
your honor, why did you do this? Why?” asked
Gebeli’s son, Mourad Gebeli, in his victim impact statement.
“Every time you walked into my dad’s store it was near closing and my
father would stay open and wait for you, we treated
you with love and respect,” Gebeli said. “What did he do to you? Why
did you do this?”
“I didn’t shoot your father,” Perrone answered, as he tried to give
Gebeli the address of where he claimed he was during
the time of the murders.
“You son of a bitch!” shouted one of the relatives from the courtroom
gallery as Marrus called for order.
Perrone — as he had throughout the trial — maintained his innocence,
despite the avalanche of evidence against him.
He read from a typed script, listing the witnesses who were not called
in his defense and names of possible suspects.
“Shut up!” shouted one victim’s relative.
“You’re a liar! You’re a piece of s--t,” Gebeli shouted as he and the
other heartbroken relatives walked out of court
during Perrone’s monologue.
After Perrone was found fit for trial, he made a bid to represent
himself at the trial, but the judge denied his request
to keep the courtroom from becoming a “circus” because of his frequent
The judge compared Perrone’s behavior to mass killer Colin Ferguson,
who killed six people on an LIRR train in 1993.
"What struck me were the parallels with their cases are: they were
both found fit to proceed after psychiatric exams,
both denied their guilt, both declined to work with their attorney,
both offered names of mysterious men who could be
responsible," Marrus said.
“Despite all the overwhelming evidence that convicted this defendant,
videos, DNA, fingerprints, telephone records, the
defendant is still in denial,” the judge said.
“If I’m lying, hang me,” responded Perrone before he was hauled into
the holding cell while holding his plastic garbage
bag filled with his court files.
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said, “I hope his life
sentence will bring some comfort to the victims’ families
who have suffered so much loss and grief.”
Serial killer convicted
By Dennis Lynch - BrooklynDaily.com
February 11, 2016
A 67-year-old Bensonhurst native murdered three Brooklyn shopkeepers
in cold blood over the course of five months in
2012, a jury found on Feb. 10.
Salvatore Perrone’s spree started in August of 2012, when he shot and
killed 65-year-old Mohamed Gebeli in his Fifth
Avenue store in Bay Ridge. A month later Perrone shot 59-year-old
Isaac Kadare in the head and slit his throat inside his
Bensonhurst dollar store. In November that year, he murdered
78-year-old Rahmatollah Vahidipour in his Flatbush boutique.
Perrone, who lived on Staten Island at the time of the murders, tried
to conceal all three of his victims’ bodies under
clothes and other items from their stores, police said.
Police caught up with Perrone after they released a photo of him
carrying a duffle bag near a victim’s shop.
They found the bag containing the .22-caliber rifle and the knife he
used to murder his victims in his girlfriend’s
Midwood home, according to the New York Times. An overwhelming amount
of genetic evidence, cell phone records, and
surveillance videos linked him to the murders, the district attorney’s
He will be sentenced on March 4, and faces 75 years to life in prison,
Accused serial killer takes the stand: ‘I was
By Sarah Trefethen - Nypost.com
February 9, 2016
The door-to-door salesman on trial in the murders of three Middle
Eastern shopkeepers in Brooklyn testified in his own
defense on Tuesday — and insisted he’d been framed for the heinous
“I was set up,” Salvatore Perrone, 67, told jurors during his baffling
testimony in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
The erratic Perrone, who has been prone to courtroom outbursts,
claimed he’d been framed by a man named Michael Bila, who
he said was an Iranian national who he’d done business with in the
past and had given him the black duffel bag that
contained the murder weapons — a sawed-off rifle and knife.
“At least that’s what he told me his name is,” Perrone said. “I know
for sure that’s not his real name. That’s a
Investigators found the bag, which prosecutors have dubbed Perrone’s
“kill kit,” inside his girlfriend’s apartment.
Perrone admitted that he’d purchased the gun, but suggested that Bila
had stolen it in 2010, when he left it alone in his
“On Sunday, Nov. 18, Michael Bila came over to East 14th Street and
gave me the duffel bag, and as we all know there was
a rifle in the duffel bag,” he said, claiming he’d never opened it.
Perrone conceded that he’d been caught on camera near the murder scene
of Isaac Kadare, toting a black duffel bag. But
that bag was filled with clothes he was trying to sell, he insisted.
“I did own that duffel bag,” he said. “Of course I owned that duffel
bag … I own maybe four or five duffel bags.”
Perrone testfied that on July 6, the day he allegedly killed his first
victim, Bay Ridge store owner Mohammah Gebeli, he
was at a dinner party, and nowhere near the murder scene.
“I dealt with him when I had leftovers in my inventory,” he said.
“We’d talk and joke. We had a cordial relationship. I
did see his son through the years grow up, and on occasion I even met
Ex-girlfriend of ‘Son of Sal’ says accused
serial killer went dancing at Brooklyn club after murdering shopkeeper
BY Chelsia Rose Marcius - New York Daily News
Friday, January 29, 2016
“Son of Sal” Salvatore Perrone danced the night away after murdering a
Brooklyn shopkeeper, his ex-girlfriend testified
Natasha Charaova, 63, said on the stand in Brooklyn Supreme Court that
she and the accused psycho serial killer tore it
up on the dance floor of Crystal Dance in Bensonhurst around 9:15 p.m.
on Nov. 16, 2012.
Prosecutors charge that about two hours prior, Perrone shot and killed
one of his three victims, store owner Rahmatollah
“(He seemed) the same, I don't see any change," she added in a thick
Russian accent, describing Perrone's behavior while
he boogied down. "He's a dancer, he's a talker ... he (was) dancing
... he was talking to people."
Charova identified Perrone, 66, and herself on surveillance tape taken
in the club, which was played for the jury.
She said Perrone, then her boyfriend of five years, accompanied her
home after the club, and spent the next four days at
her Brooklyn pad before cops finally nabbed him.
During Charova's testimony, Assistant District Attorney Melissa
Carvajal brought out the large black leather duffel bag
Perrone was seen toting on surveillance footage near Vahidipour's
Charova confirmed the bag was the same one Perrone kept at her place
“behind the couch ... on the floor.”
“It's not mine, it belonged to him ... I never paid attention to what
he carried,” she testified.
Charova said in 2012, the time of the murders, her romance with the
defendant was already on the rocks.
“It was up and down, up and down,” she said of the relationship. “He's
upset, he's not upset ... He didn't have as much
money. He couldn't buy a bottle of wine.”
Perrone is also accused of gunning down Isaac Kadare, 59, and Mohammed
He is said to suffer from “severe personality and delusional disorder”
but was declared fit for trial.
On Wednesday, Vahidipour’s daughter testified that her life was turned
“upside down” by the heinous murder.
“I used to go every Friday night to pick him up on the train. When he
didn’t show up, I got worried,” Rahmatollah
Vahidipour recalled on the stand.
She said she searched in vain for her father after he didn’t show up
at the Great Neck Long Island Rail Road station —
until her mother called with the brutal news.
“It’s been three years, and my life is still upside down. . . . It was
the biggest shock of my life. The phone fell out
of my hand,” the daughter said.
Earlier this week, Crime Scene Unit Detective Carlos Pantoja testified
that Perrone had bizarrely tried to cover up the
murder of Kadare by pouring bleach around the body and placing an
aluminum tray over the victim’s face.
Perrone faces 75 years to life if found guilty.
'Son of Sal' victim's daughter says she saw
alleged murder hours before killing
BY Christina Carrega-Woodby - New York Daily News
Friday, January 22, 2016
The daughter of one of the Brooklyn businessmen allegedly murdered by
a serial killer dubbed the "Son of Sal" remembered
seeing the crazed gunman hours before the senseless slaying.
"I saw him that day — August 2, 2012. He bought a can opener. I told
him, ‘Thank you' and to have a nice day, and all he
did was stare at me in the eyes," Isaac Kadare's daughter, Clemence,
testified in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
The 25-year-old woman gave a tearful account of her dad’s final hours
at Salvatore Perrone’s triple murder trial on
Friday, while Perrone whispered to his attorney Howard Kirsch
throughout her testimony.
"I was the cashier and didn't notice him, never saw or spoke to him
before," said Clemence as she nervously looked over
Kadare, 59, was the owner of Amazing 99 cents Store on 86th Street in
Bensonhurst as well as a tanning salon next door.
Clemence worked at the family-operated business six days a week along
with her mother, brother and sister.
The day her father was murdered the family left the store at 6:30 p.m.
while he locked up and organized newly arrived
"Did you ever spoke or see your father again?" asked Assistant
District Attorney Melissa Carvajal.
"No," she cried.
"Around 9 p.m. someone called me, we ran back to the store. I asked
the police officer if everything was okay. He said no
and I begged for them to please help revive my father."
Perrone, 66 of Staten Island, was strapped financially after his
factory closed, and sold materials like women’s clothing
and plastic garment covers to businesses in Brooklyn.
"He asked me if I wanted to buy some threads from him. He had them in
a plastic bag, they were used," said Chris Kargas,
Kargas is the owner of a dry cleaner located across the street from
Valentino’s Fashions in Bay Ridge where Mohammah
Gebeli was the owner.
Gebeli, 65, did business with Perrone before allegedly becoming his
first victim on July 6, 2012.
Perrone is also charged with killing Rahmatollah Vahidipour, 78, owner
of the She She Boutique on Flatbush Avenue on Nov.
Perrone, who suffers from "severe personality and delusional
disorder," faces life in prison without the possibility of
parole if he’s convicted.
'Son of Sal' trial begins in Brooklyn for man
accused of killing Middle Eastern shopkeepers
By Chelsia Rose Marcius - New York Daily News
Thursday, January 21, 2016
The 12 jurors chosen to serve on the triple murder trial of the
so-called “Son of Sal” were finally able to see what he
looks like in court on Thursday.
Salvatore Perrone — who’d been barred from jury selection after
outbursts where he was badmouthing his lawyer and the
judge — sat quietly in court as his trial started.
Perrone, 66, faces life without the possibility of parole if convicted
of killing three Middle Eastern shopkeepers —
Isaac Kadare, 59, Mohammed Gebeli, 65 and Rahmatollah Vahidipour, 78 —
in different shootings in Brooklyn in 2012.
One of the first witnesses to take the stand against was a police
officer who described the surreal scene of one of the
"I observed a male lying face up on the floor covered in clothing. The
foor was open, the lights were on and the gates
were up," said Officer Robert Fresneda who was the first reponding
officer for the murder of Gebeli on July 6, 2012.
Gebeli was the manager of Valentino Fashion in Bay Ridge and often did
business with Perrone, who was a door-to-door
salesman of women’s clothes.
The victim was found dead with a gunshot wound to the neck.
Accused serial killer ‘Son of Sal’ Salvatore
Perrone mentally fit to stand trial
By Oren Yaniv - New York Daily News
Friday, February 22, 2013
Accused serial killer Salvatore “Son of Sal” Perrone — charged with
slaying three Brooklyn shopkeepers — was found
mentally fit to stand trial Friday.
The Staten Island loner was examined by two doctors, who found his
rambling declarations that he was working for the
"Palestinian section of the CIA" were not the result of insanity.
"According to the doctors, that thought process reflects a grandiosity
on his part that is more consistent with a
personality disorder rather than a mental disease or defect," said
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Alan Marrus.
The shrinks who examined the 64-year-old also found he was "cleanly
groomed, does not suffer from any hallucinations or
delusional thinking, understands the charges against him," said Marrus.
"He expresses no suicidal or homicidal thoughts and he was oriented to
time, person and place,” the judge said. “He has
no known history of any mental illness."
The findings, which came after three psych evaluations, clear the way
for Perrone to be tried for the murderous spree
that claimed the lives of three men of Middle Eastern origin last
He's charged with shooting Mohamed Gebeli, 65, inside his Bay Ridge
store July 6, Isaac Kadare, 59, inside his 99-cent
store in Bensonhurst Aug. 2 and Rahmatollah Vahidipour, 78, in a
Flatbush boutique Nov. 16.
Relatives of the victims filled the courtroom for the hearing and
stared at the alleged killer in disgust.
"This guy aggravates me every time I see him," fumed Mourad Gebeli,
son of the first slain shopkeeper. "He's playing
crazy so he won't go to jail but obviously he's not."
Perrone appeared less unhinged than during his previous court
appearance, where he creepily scanned the audience with a
But he still made lengthy complaints about not seeing the police
reports and about his lawyer failing to adequately
represent him, or to get in touch with his daughter and sister.
"I'm unaware of any of the details," whined Perrone. "I was tortured
in the police station."
Prosecutor Melissa Carvajal said she communicated with the daughter
and sister and that "they don't want to have any
contact with Mr. Perrone."
After much back and forth, the judge told him, "Apparently, your
family members are not interested in coming to court or
to assist you."
The apparel salesman was first dubbed "John Doe Duffel Bag" by police
after the bag he was carrying in surveillance
photos, was captured Nov. 20, 2012.
In bizarre statements to detectives, he claimed to have committed two
murders along with agents from "the Palestinian
section of the CIA" named "Mr. B and Mr. C," but denied involvement in
the third homicide.
Suspect in Three Killings Faced Financial
By J. David Goodman - The New York Times
November 22, 2012
On the day a traveling salesman described by the police as a serial
killer was ordered held without bail on charges that
he murdered three Brooklyn shopkeepers, more details of his life began
The salesman, Salvatore Perrone, who turned 64 on Thursday, was an
independent apparel salesman with visions of creating
his own clothing line, a neighborhood curiosity in precarious
financial straits and a divorced father with a history of
drinking to excess before getting behind the wheel, according to
people who knew him and public records.
Those who lived near his three-story home on Staten Island described
Mr. Perrone as both overly combative and oddly
exuberant, a man who might threaten to call the authorities over a
minor dispute or could be seen in the middle of the
His home’s disrepair hinted at the crumbling state of Mr. Perrone’s
finances, neighbors said.
“It’s looked haunted and unlivable for about 20 years,” said Sharon
Sullivan, a former neighbor. “The place had no
windows where windows should be. Entrances that didn’t seem visible.”
Public records show that a formal notice of foreclosure was initiated
on the property, which might mean Mr. Perrone had
fallen behind on mortgage payments.
Mr. Perrone, who the police said had incriminated himself in 24 hours
of questioning, was a native of Bensonhurst,
Brooklyn, who recently lived on and off at the Midwood apartment of a
woman named Natasha.
Mr. Perrone would often stand outside the building smoking cigars,
neighbors said. “He was in his own little bubble,” one
neighbor, Ben Elchonen, said.
The apartment is where detectives found a duffel bag containing a
.22-caliber rifle that ballistics tests matched to
shells found where the shopkeepers were killed, the police said.
Mr. Perrone’s run-ins with the law over the years — arrests on charges
of drunken driving on Staten Island and in New
Jersey, and of theft and harassment in Pennsylvania, all roughly a
decade ago — offered no hint of the enormity of the
crimes he is now accused of.
“He seemed like a very personable guy,” said Francis J. Masciocchi, a
Moorestown, N.J., lawyer who represented Mr.
Perrone in the Pennsylvania case in 2001. “He was kind of like a
middleman for a clothing supplier. In this particular
case, the person involved was a former customer.”
Mr. Masciocchi said that he would get the occasional friendly holiday
call in years past, but that more recently Mr.
Perrone “just fell off the map.”
In 2007, Mr. Perrone registered a trademark for a line of clothes that
would carry the label “Salvatore Pirrone.” It was
not clear whether any items were manufactured or sold with that label.
Wearing a black sweatshirt and black pants, Mr. Perrone was arraigned
Thursday in Brooklyn Criminal Court and was ordered
held without bail.
He faces three counts of second-degree murder and one count of
first-degree murder, a charge available to prosecutors
when a defendant is accused of killing three people within two years.
If convicted, he would face life in prison.
Ken Jones, a public defender appointed to represent Mr. Perrone for
the arraignment, said later that Mr. Perrone denied
that he had killed anyone or had made incriminating statements to the
Based on his conversations with his client, Mr. Jones said, “he does
seem as though he could have some mental-health
The three killed were Mohamed Gebeli, 65, shot on July 6; Isaac Kadare,
59, found dead on Aug. 2; and Rahmatollah
Vahidipour, 78, who was killed last Friday.
On Thursday, Mr. Vahidipour’s daughter Marjan Vahidipour, 38, said he
would usually lead their holiday meal surrounded by
his nine grandchildren. “Unfortunately, we are not celebrating this
holiday,” she said.
“We are very thankful” for the arrest, she added. “And we are very
She said her family, who lives in Great Neck, on Long Island, did not
recognize the salesman arrested on Wednesday and
could not understand what appeared to be the absence of a motive. “Who
would do this? And why? For no reason — that’s
what’s killing me inside,” Ms. Vahidipour said.
Instead of sharing a Thanksgiving meal, the family gathered for a
Man Arrested in Deaths of 3 Brooklyn Merchants
Is Called ‘Serial Killer’
By J. David Goodman - The New York Times
November 21, 2012
The search for a suspect in the recent deaths of three Brooklyn
shopkeepers ended on Wednesday with the arrest of a
clothing dealer whom Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly described as
a “serial killer” intent on finding more victims.
The arrest of the clothing dealer, Salvatore Perrone, 64, of Staten
Island — who faces one count of first-degree murder,
three counts of second-degree murder and weapons charges — “saved
lives,” Mr. Kelly said in a news conference at Police
Headquarters. “We know that he went to other locations and asked
questions,” the commissioner added, which “indicated
that he may well be planning to come back.”
After days of searching for a man recorded on surveillance video and
nicknamed John Doe Duffel Bag by the authorities,
the police said they found Mr. Perrone when someone recognized him in
a Bay Ridge pharmacy from images circulated in the
news media. He went voluntarily with the police on Tuesday.
Detectives found what they called the murder weapon, a sawed-off
.22-caliber rifle with a flashlight held to the barrel
by duct tape and pink rubber bands, in a closet at the home of Mr.
Perrone’s girlfriend in Brooklyn, Mr. Kelly said.
Ballistics tests matched the gun to shell casings found at each of
three murder scenes, he said.
The gun was found in a duffel bag — the same bag they said Mr. Perrone
was seen holding on the video — along with a box
of bullets and a kitchen knife that Mr. Kelly said had dried blood on
it. He did not say whether the blood was from any
of the victims’ bodies. He said Mr. Perrone’s girlfriend, whose name
was not released, was not considered a suspect.
At the 67th Precinct station house in Flatbush on Wednesday,
detectives questioned Mr. Perrone about the three killings,
which date to July and have held Brooklyn merchants in a state of
fear. Mr. Kelly said that after the rifle was found and
during hours of questioning, Mr. Perrone “made statements implicating
Mr. Perrone, whom Mr. Kelly called “this serial killer,” was arraigned
early Thursday morning in Brooklyn Criminal Court
and was ordered held without bail. He wore a black sweatshirt and
Ken Jones, a lawyer who said he represented Mr. Perrone for the
arraignment only, said that from his conversations with
his client, “he does seem as though he could have some mental-health
“His affect is just a little different,” Mr. Jones said, adding that
he had not spent enough time with his client to make
a determination regarding his psychological state.
Responding to a reporter’s question, the lawyer said that Mr. Perrone
had not expressed remorse.
Mr. Jones also said Mr. Perrone denied that he had killed anyone or
had made incriminating statements to the authorities.
The first-degree murder count is a statutory charge available to
prosecutors when three people are killed by the same
person within two years. If convicted, Mr. Perrone would face life in
Mr. Kelly said Mr. Perrone “had a minor criminal record” but did not
elaborate. A spokesman for the Staten Island
district attorney said Mr. Perrone had been convicted of drunken
driving on at least one occasion more than a decade ago.
Court records from Pennsylvania showed he had been arrested there in
2001 for charges that included harassment; that case
was dropped by local prosecutors.
Like the three victims, Mr. Perrone worked in the retail industry. He
was described as a kind of independent salesman,
dropping in on shops around Brooklyn to peddle his wares. Mr. Kelly
did not say whether Mr. Perrone had previous dealings
with the men he was charged with killing, the most recent on Friday at
a Flatbush Avenue women’s wear shop.
Each victim was an older man of Middle Eastern origin working alone in
stores, the police said; none of the shops had
video cameras. Mr. Kelly said Wednesday that Mr. Perrone had not been
charged with bias crimes, and he declined to
discuss a possible motive.
Robbery did not appear to be a motive, however — the most recent
victim, Rahmatollah Vahidipour, 78, had $171 in his
pockets when his body was found.
Mr. Perrone is divorced, and in recent years had been in “some
difficulty” financially, Mr. Kelly said.
Shopkeepers in Brooklyn had been warned to stay alert since the
summer, when two of the victims were killed at their
stores in two months. Mohamed Gebeli, 65, died in his Bay Ridge
clothing shop, Valentino Fashion, on July 6 from gunshot
wounds to the neck. The police found Isaac Kadare, 59, dead on Aug. 2
in his 99-cent store in Bensonhurst, with a gunshot
wound to the head and stab wounds to the neck.
In each killing, the bodies had been covered in clothing and other
items from the shops to conceal them from passers-by,
the police said.
Around Mr. Perrone’s home, on the corner of Clove Road and Beverly
Avenue in the Silver Lake area of Staten Island,
neighbors said he was known for his odd behavior and three-story,
partially constructed house.
“He’s a weird duck,” said John O’Rourke, 65, whose back yard abuts Mr.
Perrone’s. “He looked just like Edgar Allan Poe.
Black coat, black vest, black shirt, black pants. Every time I saw
him, he was wearing all black.”
He said that the home, surrounded by an unfinished concrete wall, had
been under construction for years and that Mr.
Perrone lived in the basement.
Julia Marra, 21, who grew up on Beverly Avenue opposite Mr. Perrone,
said he was “always really loud and yelling; he’d be
out in the street, yelling and singing.”
Bias Weighed as Motive in Killings of Brooklyn
By J. David Goodman - The New York Times
November 19, 2012
Police detectives were looking at the possibility
of bias as a motive in the recent killings of three Brooklyn
shopkeepers of Middle Eastern origin, and were working with federal
agents to create a profile of a suspect, the police commissioner,
Raymond W. Kelly, said Monday.
Detectives were working under the premise that a
single gunman carried out all three killings, and Mr. Kelly said it
was “reasonable to assume” that the gunman had canvassed the shops —
none of which had video cameras installed — before each shooting. The
police matched shell casings found at the scene of the most recent
killing, on Friday evening at the She She Boutique on Flatbush Avenue,
to the deaths of two shopkeepers over the summer.
“The possibility of a bias motive here is something
that can’t be excluded,” Mr. Kelly said, adding that a member of the
Police Department’s task force on hate crimes was part of the team
investigating the killings. He said the police were also consulting
with profilers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The suspect seemed to have taken steps to avoid
detection: the bodies of the three men were covered in clothes or
other objects to conceal them from the view of passers-by, the police
said. But the suspect did not remove the shell casings from the scene,
or use a different weapon, allowing detectives to connect the
Moreover, robbery did not appear to be a primary
motive; Mr. Kelly said the most recent victim had $171 in his pockets
when his body was found.
In search of leads, detectives spent much of the
weekend poring over surveillance video from around the Flatbush Avenue
shop where the latest victim, Rahmatollah Vahidipour, 78, died from
three gunshot wounds on Friday, and released images of four people
wanted for questioning, including a woman seen running away from a
By Monday, their attention had narrowed to one
person seen on video and identified by the police only by the bag he
“We’re focused on identifying ‘John Doe Duffel
Bag,’ ” said Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.
Mr. Browne did not elaborate on what led the police
to home in on that man in particular, but said the woman running near
the crime scene was suspected of stealing from a perfume vendor, seen
on the video chasing her.
Surveillance cameras captured the man with the
duffel bag walking northbound on Flatbush Avenue roughly a block and a
half north of Mr. Vahidipour’s shop at 6 p.m. on Friday, the police
said, placing him in the area during the window when detectives
believe the killing occurred. Another video camera captured him
minutes later and half a block farther north, walking in the same
The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes,
said in a news conference on Monday that there did not appear to be
anything tying the three victims — Mr. Vahidipour; Isaac Kadare, 59,
killed on Aug. 2; and Mohamed Gebeli, 65, on July 6 — to each other.
“There is nothing about the victims that would suggest anything other
than they were just the victims of a random execution,” Mr. Hynes
The shootings recalled the serial killings of four
shopkeepers in Brooklyn and Queens in 2003 by Larme Price, who went
after the men because he believed they were of Middle Eastern descent;
only one was. Mr. Price, who had a history of mental health problems,
is serving a life term.
With no arrests so far, Mr. Kelly advised
shopkeepers not to work alone — each of the three shootings occurred
when the men were on their own — and to remain alert and report
“anything of a suspicious nature.”
Fatal Shootings of 2 Brooklyn Shopkeepers
Unnerve Fellow Merchants
By Cara Buckley and Eric P. Newcomer - The New York
August 5, 2012
The recent killings of two shopkeepers in south
Brooklyn bore eerie similarities, though their deaths occurred nearly
four weeks apart. Both were shot in the head or neck with what the
police said were .22-caliber guns. Both were Egyptian immigrants
around retirement age. And both sold their wares at addresses that
contained the same numbers: two 7s, a 1 and an 8.
The police have yet to arrest anyone in the
killings of Isaac Kadare, 59, in his bargain store, Amazing 99 Cents
and Up Deals, on Thursday, and of Mohamed Gebeli, 65, at his clothing
shop, Valentino Fashion, on July 6.
Mr. Kadare was found dead at his store, at 1877
86th Street in Bensonhurst, shortly before 9 p.m. with a gunshot wound
to the head and stab wounds to the neck; Mr. Gebeli was found at 7718
Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge around 11 p.m. with a bullet to his neck, a
spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said. Paul J. Browne,
the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said this weekend that he did
not know if the similarities between the victims’ addresses were “a
weird coincidence or something more.”
The deaths of the two men deeply unnerved fellow
merchants and friends, and while some store owners whose shops shared
similar addresses shrugged off the coincidence, others were on alert.
“Thanks for letting us know,” said Sal Pepe, a
worker at Brooklyn’s Best Bikes, at 8717 18th Avenue in Bath Beach; it
specializes in Harley-Davidsons and customizes motorcycles. Mr. Pepe
had heard about the shootings, but speculated that anyone coming into
the shop with ill intentions might find his or her plans quickly
“I don’t think they’d want to come in here,” he
said. “This is a motorcycle shop. They’d have a problem making it
On Sunday, police tape lined the sidewalk in front
of Amazing 99 Cents and Up Deals, which still looked ready for
business, with shampoo bottles, a plush panda bear pillow and plastic
cups filling the window.
Police posters featuring the composite sketch of a
suspect — a man with trimmed hair and sunglasses — were plastered in
many storefronts nearby.
Aaron Goh, a server at Shiki, a sushi restaurant
nearby, was still struggling to comprehend the killing of Mr. Kadare,
who, according to The Daily News, was a Sephardic Jew born in Egypt.
“Honestly, I’ve been working here for six years,
and I have never seen anything happen like this,” he said.
Tony Corleone, who works at the Verizon Wireless
store a few doors down from the dollar store, said he did not know the
victim, and added that the killing had not made him feel less safe.
“Nobody is safe,” he said. “It could be anything.
It’s just sad that it had to happen to that guy.”
Valentino Fashion also looked ready for business on
Sunday, but for the police tape. Suits lined the walls, and shoes and
belts were displayed, though an empty tie rack in the store was tipped
A loyal customer relayed his shock on the review
Web site Yelp. Mr. Gebeli’s shop, he wrote, revealed a detailed eye
for fashion, while the proprietor was a “a Middle Eastern gentleman
with a sweet nature; old-school manners and impeccable values where
customers were concerned. He was supremely polite and cordial.”
“I can’t understand,” the man continued, “how this
tragedy even happened.”
Next door, Sam Nehme, a broker at Graceland Realty,
said he was unnerved by the two killings and mourned the loss of Mr.
Gebeli. “He was the best neighbor,” he said. Mr. Nehme also said he
has started closing earlier as a precaution, “because you never know.”
Nigi Alward, the manager of a convenience store on
the corner, said that the killing was terrifying, but that he did not
believe the address motivated the killer. Instead, he said, he
suspected a more ordinary explanation: Mr. Gebeli was older and alone.