Murder Suspect Strikes Again

November 19, 2012 Denise Romano
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The crazed gunman who struck down two store owners in southwest Brooklyn over the summer has struck again.

Another Middle Eastern shopkeeper was murdered in his store, this time in Flatbush, on Friday, November 16, making this the third similar incident in four months.

Rahmatollah Vahidipour was discovered by police inside his business, She She Boutique, at 836 Flatbush Avenue at 7:17 p.m. He had suffered three gunshot wounds to the head and torso.

The 78-year-old Iranian Jew was killed with the same .22 caliber pistol that killed Ridgeite Mohamed Gebeli in his Fifth Avenue business, Valentino’s Fashions on July 6, as well as Isaac Kadare, who was gunned down in his shop, 99 Cent Amazing Deals and Up on 86th Street in Bath Beach on August 2.

All three men were found dead in their shops. Gebeli, 65, an Egyptian Muslim, suffered a gunshot wound to the neck inside his store at 7718 Fifth Avenue. Kadare, 59, an Egyptian Jew, died from a gunshot wound to the head and sharp force entries to his neck, inside his shop at 1877 86th Street.

Some police sources have said that numerology could play a role in the murders. In the first two incidents, the addresses were essentially anagrammed: 7718 Fifth Avenue and 1877 86th Street. There is also an “8” in the most current location: 836 Flatbush Avenue.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile met with Councilmembers David Greenfield and Mathieu Eugene at a special police briefing at Brooklyn South on Monday, November 19.

“I remain deeply troubled by these senseless acts of violence,” Gentile said. “We as residents must always remain vigilant but as the representative for Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst, I refuse to let my neighborhoods live in fear. I can report today that the NYPD has narrowed its focus to a single person of interest in these gruesome serial slayings.”

NYPD detectives want to question that man, a white male, dubbed “John Doe Duffle Bag,” whose image was captured just after 6 p.m. by a camera outside of 786 Flatbush Avenue, between a block and a block and half north of the crime scene, walking northbound on Flatbush Avenue between Caton Avenue and Martense Street.

Images of the same individual were captured three minutes later at 6:03 p.m. by a camera outside 738A Flatbush Avenue, which is approximately two blocks north of the crime scene; in these, he is seen walking northbound on Flatbush Avenue between Woodruff Avenue and Parkside Avenue.

The FBI has been called in to draw up a profile of the suspect.

Police were also trying to question three other individuals, also caught on camera, but they have since been cleared.

Gentile encouraged shopkeepers who work alone to use a buddy system when closing time comes and if possible to try to avoid being in stores alone after dark.

“In addition to remaining vigilant, consider installing a video surveillance system – as thus far the killer has avoided stores with surveillance systems installed,” he said.

A reward of $22,000 is  being offered by the NYPD for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual responsible for the murders, with Greenfield and State Senator Marty Golden getting together to increase the total reward to $40,000.

Greenfield stated, “Our police department and community will not rest until this killer is brought to justice. We won’t allow an individual to terrorize our neighborhoods and leave business owners fearing for their lives,” he said. “Someone out there has information about these cold-blooded crimes, and hopefully this reward money will motivate them to do the right thing.”

Golden added, “This is the third tragedy to take the life of a Brooklyn shopkeeper and we must end this pattern of violence. The killing this past Friday has again shocked and scared the Brooklyn business community.”

According to police, the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.

Police are releasing the same sketch they did in August, of a 5’5” black male, weighing about 140 pounds, wearing sunglasses.

Anyone with information that can lead to the arrest of this suspect is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.


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