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Salvatore PERRONE






A.K.A.: "The Son of Sal"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: 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
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: July 6 / August 2 / November 16, 2012
Date of arrest: November 20, 2012
Date of birth: 1948
Victims profile: Mohamed Gebeli, 65 / Isaac Kadare, 59 / Rahmatollah Vahidipour, 78
Method of murder: Shooting (.22-caliber rifle)
Location: New York City, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to 75 years to life in prison on March 4, 2016
photo gallery

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, officials said.

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 neighborhood.

The shootings were connected by .22-caliber shell casings recovered at the scenes.


'Son of Sal' serial killer Salvatore Perrone, who gunned down three shopkeepers in Brooklyn, gets 75 years to life in prison

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 harsher sentence.

“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 salesman.

“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 Vahidipour.

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 outbursts.

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 -

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 office said.

He will be sentenced on March 4, and faces 75 years to life in prison, officials said.


Accused serial killer takes the stand: ‘I was set up’

By Sarah Trefethen -

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 crimes.

“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 fictitious name.”

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 apartment.

“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 his wife.”


Ex-girlfriend of ‘Son of Sal’ says accused serial killer went dancing at Brooklyn club after murdering shopkeeper in 2012

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 Thursday.

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 Vahidipour.

“(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 Flatbush shop.

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 Gebeli, 65.

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 at Perrone.

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 merchandise.

"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, 74.

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. 17, 2012.

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 murders.

"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 year.

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 wild grin.

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 Troubles

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 to emerge.

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 street, singing.

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 authorities.

Based on his conversations with his client, Mr. Jones said, “he does seem as though he could have some mental-health issues.”

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 angry.”

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 memorial service.


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 himself.”

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 black pants.

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 issues.”

“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 prison.

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 Shopkeepers

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 killings.

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 man.

By Monday, their attention had narrowed to one person seen on video and identified by the police only by the bag he was carrying.

“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 direction.

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 said.

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 Times

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 thwarted.

“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 out.”

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 over.

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.



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