Bay Ridge lauds slain merchant as hunt for killer continues

By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Police are continuing their search for the killer who shot a clothing store owner to death inside his Fifth Avenue shop last Friday night, a slaying that alarmed the business and residential communities of Bay Ridge.

Police said that the victim, Mohamed Gebeli, 65, was shot once in the neck inside his shop, Valentino Fashion, a men’s clothing store at 7718 Fifth Ave.

At press time, police had no suspects and no motive in the slaying.

As detectives searched for clues in the slaying, friends of the victim paid him tribute.

“He was a good guy," civic leader and longtime friend Katherine Khatari said. "There was a homeless guy who used to walk up and down Fifth Avenue and Mohammed would give him socks for his feet. He was very good to my husband and me. We went through a lot together.”

The funeral for Gebeli, an Egyptian, took place on Saturday, Khatari said. In accordance with Muslim tradition, the deceased are buried quickly after death.

“I hope this murder is solved right away, so his family can have peace of mind. His wife works in a Dunkin' Donuts and his son works in a car service. They’re real Bay Ridge people,” Khatari said.

The murder came to light when friends of Gebeli went to Valentino Fashion that night to look for him after he did not return to his home on 76th St. after the store’s normal closing time. When they arrived at the store, they discovered Gebeli lying on the floor, unconscious and bleeding. Police determined that he had been shot once in the neck.

The victim was rushed to Lutheran Medical Center, but was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

“This is terrible. He was such a nice man,” said Janet Gounis, who works in a Capital One Bank branch on Fifth Avenue and knew Gebeli as a customer. “He was always so calm and unhurried. Everyone liked him.”

The murder is making many store owners jittery, Khatari said.

“I walked the avenue with the captain yesterday and everyone was talking about what had happened,” she said. Khatari was referring to Capt. Richard DiBlasio, the commanding officer of the 68th Precinct.

A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the cold-blooded killer.

Khatari said she thinks the bad economy might have delayed getting help for Gebeli.

“He usually closed the store at around 7:30 or 8," she said, "they didn’t find him until after 11. In those three hours, nobody walked into his store. That tells you how slow business is.”

Anyone with information about the slaying is asked to call the 68th Precinct at (718) 439-4211.

July 10, 2012 - 3:57pm


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