Arrest made over shopkeeper shootings

Last updated 12:33 22/11/2012

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A low-end clothing dealer was arrested today over the killings of three shopkeepers of Middle Eastern descent, police said.

Salvatore Perrone, of Staten Island, was arrested on murder charges in the Brooklyn shooting deaths, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Perrone had tried to sell clothing to the shopkeepers, police said.

Police recovered a bag containing a sawed-off rifle believed to have been used in the killings.

They said the balding Perrone, 63, appeared on surveillance footage carrying the bag moments after the most recent shooting, last Friday.

The other killings happened in July and August. All three shopkeepers were men alone in stores that had no video cameras.

Perrone was in custody Wednesday and couldn’t be reached for comment.

It was unclear if he had a lawyer. A message left on his cellphone wasn’t immediately returned.

In the most recent killing, Rahmatollah Vahidipour, an Iranian, was shot three times in the head and chest at his store, the She She Boutique.

After that killing, detectives believed the same gun was used in the fatal shootings of two other shopkeepers when ballistics matched the .22-caliber gun shell casings on all three.

On July 6, Mohamed Gebeli, an Egyptian, was found shot in the back of his shop, Valentino Fashion Inc.

On August 6, Isaac Kadare, also Egyptian, was shot in the head in his store, Amazing 99 Cent Deal.

There were other similarities, authorities said: The shops all lacked surveillance cameras, and the owners were alone inside.

The bodies were all partially obscured by clothing or, in one case, a box.

The locations of the shops form an equilateral triangle and are about 6.4km apart, with addresses that contain the number eight.

Money was taken from everyone but Vahidipour, who had US$171 in his pocket.

Police earlier this week said they were looking to speak with four people who possibly witnessed the most recent killing and released video and clear images of the four. But they zeroed in on the man with the bag, who they now say was Perrone.

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- AP

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