NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An arrest was made Wednesday in a murder spree that terrorized shopkeepers in Brooklyn.
A Staten Island man, identified as 63-year-old Salvatore Perrone, was charged with three counts of second-degree murder in the killings of three shopkeepers over the last four months. Perrone had a blank expression on his face and ignored questions shouted by reporters as he was lead out of the police borough command on Wednesday night.
1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr Reports
At an earlier news conference, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Perrone was recognized by someone in Bay Ridge and then voluntarily went to the 67th Precinct to be questioned.
Kelly said the person who spotted Perrone did not want to be identified, but Kelly lauded the individual for displaying “vigilance” and “civic mindedness.”
Authorities said they still don’t have a motive in the killings, but Kelly added it was “reasonable to assume” Perrone, a low-end clothing dealer, could have acted again.
“We know he went to other locations and indicated he may have been planning to come back,” Kelly said. “It’s reasonable to assume he was going to continue this type of activity.”
Detectives had been questioning Perrone, dubbed “John Doe duffel bag,” for almost 24 hours after he turned himself in on Tuesday. Earlier, Perrone had been referred to only as a “person of interest.”
Police were outside the Midwood apartment building where Perrone’s girlfriend, Russian immigrant Natasha Charova, lives. Sources said Perrone stashed his duffel bag at her place. Police found a .22 caliber gun inside, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.
Ballistics tests have matched up the sawed-off rifle found in Perrone’s duffel bag as the same weapon used in all three shopkeeper murders, sources told WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell.
Inside the bag, police also found women’s stockings, black gloves, a laser scope and two knives, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported. One of the knives had stains that appeared to be blood, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
Perrone was previously arrested in 2001 in Pennsylvania, accused of burglary and stalking an ex-girlfriend. Perrone, who will turn 64 on Thanksgiving Day, will likely spend the holiday behind bars.
WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reports
CBS 2’s Aiello spoke with a woman who knows Perrone and she said she was shocked.
“I tell you truth. When I saw on TV I thought, ‘I know him,’ no. He’s never killed. I’ve known him seven years,” she said.
Perrone was actually well known in Brooklyn, with one store owner telling CBS 2’s Dick Brennan, “I can’t believe he would do this … in a million years.”
The first store owner to be killed was Mohamed Gebeli. He was found dead in his Bay Ridge clothing store Valentino Fashion at 7718 5th Ave., on July 6.
Bay Ridge’s Chris Kargas said he thought he could have been next, because Perrone had apparently visited his dry cleaning store a number of times after the murder of Gebeli.
“We were frightened all this time until they get him, actually,” Kargas told CBS 2’s Brennan.
One thing police have not made clear is a motive. It’s something that really bothers Moe Gebeli, who said he thinks about his father every day.
“I just want to ask you one question: Why? Tell me the reason why,” Moe Gebeli told CBS 2’s Brennan. “We know him, I know him. As soon as we see him on the video I know him right away.”
Moe Gebelli said he remembers the man accused of killing his father, because he sold clothes to the family for 20 years, and acted strangely.
“He’s not normal like us. He’s always jumpy, wants to get outta here right away, all hyped up. ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.’ He’s not normal like us,” Moe Gebeli said.
On Aug. 2, shopkeeper Isaac Kadare was found gunned down at his store, Amazing 99 Cents Deal shop at 1877 86th St.
The latest homicide happened Friday at the She She Boutique at 836 Flatbush Ave., where store owner Rahmatollah Vahidipour was found fatally shot, police said.
All three victims were of Middle Eastern descent and all shop owners who were working alone in their stores when they were killed. Police said the killings have not been determined to be bias crimes at this time.
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