Gun found in apartment linked to a man tied to New York merchant killings

Raquel Erhard – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – Officials revealed Wednesday that they discovered a .22-caliber weapon and some knives in a New York apartment connected to a person of interest in the slaying of three Brooklyn shopkeepers.

Police confirmed the man, who was wanted for questioning, has been located and detectives continued to interview him, at the 67th Precinct station in Flatbush.

The unidentified man, dubbed as John Doe Duffle Bag, was shown on two surveillance cameras walking away around 6 p.m. near the scene of the latest shooting that happened at the She She Boutique on Flatbush Avenue last Friday, where the store owner’s body, 78-year-old Rahmatollah Vahidipour, was discovered after 7 p.m.

Video images showed a balding, middle-aged man with a mustache, wearing a long coat and slacks, and holding a large bag.

Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said Friday 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.

Vahidipour 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.

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.

Each case involved elderly shopkeepers of Middle Eastern origin and all three store addresses where the murder happened had the number 8 in the address, according to officials.

The police did not confirm if the weapon found had been tested for a match to those casings. It was also not revealed if the knives discovered at the Brooklyn apartment were linked to Kadare’s stabbing.

Investigators said robbery might not be the reason for the killings as Vahidipour had $171 in his pockets when his body was found.

Investigators have consulted with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the gunman’s profile.

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