Gun from 'John Doe Duffle Bag' a match for Brooklyn killings: Sources
Update, 5:08 p.m.: Salvatore Perrone, 63, was arrested in connection with the three slayings after being questioned by the NYPD. He has reportedly be charged with three counts of murder, according to ABC.
Ballistics tests on a gun seized by New York City police from the duffel bag of a roving clothing merchant show a match with bullets that killed three Brooklyn store owners, law enforcement sources said.
The officials, who didn't want to be identified, said the .22-caliber sawed-off rifle matches the weapon used in the slaying of the owners is a key element in the investigation. The Staten Island clothing merchant, who has not been identified and not formally charged, has been making statements to detectives in Brooklyn since late Tuesday, said the sources.
The NYPD recovered the sawed-off .22-caliber rifle and other items, including knives, gloves, stockings and ammunition, from a duffel bag belonging to a man being questioned in connection with the slayings the Brooklyn shopkeepers, a police official said Wednesday.
The rifle, a Ruger 10/22, has a sawed-off stock, and an attached laser-light, and fires .22-caliber bullets, the official said.
Blood evidence also was recovered from an item in the duffel bag, the official said.
An official told Newsday that the bag belongs to the same balding, middle-aged man seen on surveillance footage outside the She-She Boutique moments after shopkeeper Rahmatollah Vahidipour, 78, of Great Neck, was killed Friday.
Police said Vahidipour, an emigrant from Iran who had lived in the United States for more than 20 years, was shot three times inside the boutique.
The suspect was seen on surveillance footage and that footage was released by the NYPD on Monday, as detectives identified four people of interest on that video -- asking the public for assistance in identifying them. The man being questioned Tuesday and Wednesday was identified as John Doe Duffel Bag, described as a clothing salesman from Staten Island. He was seen on surveillance cameras twice near the store carrying a duffel bag, police said.
It was not clear if the bag recovered was the same bag seen in that surveillance footage.
But police said the bag was recovered from the Staten Island apartment of the girlfriend of John Doe Duffel Bag.
He is not under arrest and was being interviewed at the 68th Precinct in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.
The NYPD said that three other persons of interest have all been accounted for and discounted as having a role in the shopkeeper robberies and murders. The first two slayings occurred in July and August.
The mystery surrounding the killings of the three shopkeepers deepened Tuesday when police revealed all three had their heads covered by cardboard after their deaths.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly noted the unexplained similarity among the crime scenes as he was questioned by reporters at police headquarters about efforts to find the killer or killers involved in the three homicides.
Among the similarities in the cases was that all three men were single proprietors of Middle Eastern ancestry who were in the process of closing up their shops for the day when they were killed.
Kelly said police are looking at the possibility that the killings were bias crimes.
"We have not eliminated that," Kelly said. "Everything is on the table."
Of the man dubbed John Doe Duffle Bag, Kelly said before the interview: "He was in the vicinity when the murder took place. We want to talk to anybody who was in the vicinity at that time."
The police commissioner also noted that a sketch of a man released by the NYPD after Vahidipour's killing was "no longer relevant" in the investigation. Kelly said the sketch was made as a result of the first two killings as someone the police wanted to talk to. "I believe that individual has been interviewed," he said.
An FBI profiler has been contacted to see if any leads or analysis can be provided to detectives, Kelly said.
So far, a motive for the killing of Vahidipour remains unclear. His family noted that his credit card and telephone address book, written in Persian, were missing. Kelly said $171 in cash was found on Vahidipour.