(NEW YORK) — A man dubbed “John Doe Duffel Bag” who was wanted for questioning in connection with the murders of three Brooklyn, N.Y., shopkeepers — all of whom were of Middle Eastern descent — was in custody Tuesday night, police said.
New York police had said they wanted to question a man after surveillance tape appeared to place him in the vicinity of two of the murders.
The middle-aged white man was spotted on cameras around 6 p.m. near the She She boutique in the Flatbush neighborhood, where 78-year-old Rahmatollah Vahidipour was found dead at 7:11 p.m. Friday. Police said he is likely the person captured on fuzzier video from near the site of the second of the three slayings.
The second video, from Aug. 2, appears to show “John Doe Duffel Bag” near the Bensonhurst shop where Isaac Kadare was murdered with the same .22 caliber gun that was used to kill Vahidipour, sources told ABC News.
“The investigation continues aggressively. We still want to talk to the man in the picture we put out,” New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “[The man] was in the vicinity roughly at the time we believe the murder took place.”
NYPD sources tell ABC News that authorities are determining his identity in an effort to bring him in for questioning. Kelly said that neither bias nor hate crime has been eliminated as a motive.
The trio of killings took place within a five-mile radius of each other, and each occurred at a small shop that lacked security cameras, and each victim was over 50, police said. It was also not clear whether the victims were robbed. Shell casings from the gun used in Vahidipour’s murder match the casings found at two other murders scenes this summer.
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Kelly said is that in each murder, the killer partially covered the victims with cardboard or clothing.
The FBI has complied with a NYPD request for a profiler to help identify who might have killed these three people.
Vahidipour, an Iranian Jew, was killed with three gunshot wounds to the head and torso. His body was dragged to the back of the store and covered with merchandise, WABC reported. The body was discovered at 7:11 p.m.
Surveillance cameras caught footage of “John Doe Duffel Bag,” along with three other potential witnesses to the killing, within the area between 6 p.m. and 6:52 p.m.
On July 6, clothing store owner Mohamed Gebeli, an Egyptian Muslim, was killed inside Valentino Fashion in Bay Ridge. Gebeli was shot in the neck and was found with several pieces of clothing on top of him. Police said $383 in receipts was missing, but $1,500 was found inside a cabinet.
On Aug. 2, Kadare, a Jewish man of Egyptian descent, was found dead at the Amazing 99 Cents Deal store that he owned in Bensonhurst. Kadare had been shot in the temple and had three stab wounds to the neck. His face was covered with an aluminum tray and bleach had been splashed on his pants. It wasn’t clear if anything had been taken from Kadare’s store.
Police said they are not sure if the homicides were racially motivated.
Rewards of $22,000 in each of the homicides are being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the crimes.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
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