New York, NY, United States (4E) – A 78-year-oldBrooklyn shopkeeper was fatally shot Friday night and police said the shooter fired the same .22-caliber gun that was used in two shopkeeper shootings a few months ago.
Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne confirmed that the same gun was used in all three murders but added that it’s too soon to tell if the deaths are the work of a serial killer.
Browne said “there are similar things in each case, but that determination hasn’t been made yet.”
Vahidipour Rahmatollah was killed in his clothing store last week and ballistics tests on shell casings recovered at the scene indicated the shooter’s .22-caliber gun is the same weapon used in the July slayings of two other Brooklyn shop owners.
Browne told CNN “That doesn’t say it’s the same person who fired the gun, but that’s the working premise, that it’s the same shooter.”
Rahmatollah, who owns a women’s clothing store called She-She Boutique, died after being shot three times in the head and torso.
According to police, they plan to interview Sunday four unidentified persons seen on surveillance cameras located around the store’s area during the incident.
A police statement stated “Detectives want to question them about what they may have observed because of the time of day and their proximity to the homicide scene.”
Authorities said the same weapon was used in the August 3 death of 59-year-old Isaac Kadare, who was killed with a gunshot wound in his head inside his Amazing 99 Cent Deals store.
Mohammed Gebeli, 65, was shot in the head and stabbed in the neck on July 6, inside his Valentino Fashion Inc. clothing shop.
Officials claimed the victims were similarly positioned after their deaths, each victim’s body was hidden, either wrapped by clothes or covered by merchandise.
Browne said all three victims have ties to the Middle East, but “there’s nothing to suggest a bias.”
However, a team working to solve the first two slayings has been expanded to add someone from the hate crimes task force, added Browne.
The probability of violent robberies were also in consideration as cash were taken in the first two killings but investigators are still checking if money is missing in Rahmatollah’s store.
Rewards of $22,000 are being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in all three homicides.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Crimestoppers hotline at (800) 577-TIPS.