By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The man who allegedly killed three Brooklyn store owners in cold blood in a shocking crime spree that had merchants on edge for five months is being held in jail without bail as prosecutors begin building their criminal case around him.
Salvatore Perrone, 64, was charged on Nov. 21 with three counts of murder. There are conflicting reports as to whether Perrone had walked into a police precinct voluntarily earlier that day to answer questions from police or if he was picked up for questioning by cops while he was visiting a Bay Ridge pharmacy.
Police had been looking for a man they described as “person of interest,” whose image had been captured on video surveillance cameras at the crime scenes carrying a duffle bag. Police had dubbed the man “John Doe Duffle Bag.”
After questioning Perrone for several hours, police decided that he was the killer and charged him.
Three shopkeepers, all of Middle Eastern descent, were shot to death in a terrifying spree that began in July. The most recent slaying took place on Nov. 16, when Rahmatollah Vahidipour, owner of She-She Boutique, a clothing store at 834 Flatbush Ave., was found dead inside his shop.
On Aug. 6, Isaac Kadare, owner of Amazing 99 Cent Deal, a store at 1877 86th St. in Bensonhurst, was found shot in the head inside his store.
The first of the three murders took place on July 6, when Mohamed Gebeli was found dead inside his store Valentino Fashions at 7718 Fifth Ave. in Bay Ridge.
Perrone, who lived on Staten Island, worked as a traveling salesman and may have tried to sell clothing to one of store owners, police said.
The victims had some striking things in common, according to authorities. All of the stores lacked video surveillance cameras. The images of “John Doe Duffle Bag” were captured by cameras at other locations. All three stores contained the number 8 in the address. And in all three cases, the killer had placed clothing or other items in an attempt to obscure the bodies.
The same gun, a .22 caliber Ruger rifle, was used to kill all three victims, police said. The gun was recovered during a search of Perrone’s girlfriend’s apartment, police said.
Elected officials expressed relief with the arrest of a suspect in connection with the murders.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) commended the work of the Police Department. “I applaud the efforts of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the men and women of the NYPD who have devoted countless hours to this investigation. I know that solving these murders has been a priority since the first shooting this summer in Bay Ridge, near where Salvatore Perrone was arrested yesterday,” Golden said.
“The sequence of these killings shocked and frightened merchants throughout Brooklyn, who much like these three victims, are business owners living for the American Dream. The continued presence of this criminal on our streets posed a threat to Brooklyn and our city, and made many fear the presence of a serial killer,” Golden said.
Golden said he hoped the families of the victims would find closure. “May we remember the Gebeli, Kadare and Vahidipour families at this time and pray for them to find peace and healing” he said.
A day before Perrone’s arrest, Golden and Councilman David Greenfield (Borough Park-Bensonhurst) jointly announced that they were offering a $40,000 reward for the capture and conviction of a suspect.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) had met with police officials on Nov. 20 to discuss the murder spree investigation.
“I was deeply disturbed by these heinous, senseless murders and I commend the NYPD for their hard work and diligence in stopping Salvatore Perrone before he tried to kill again,” Gentile said.