Police are pretty sure the man who voluntarily came in to talk to them on Tuesday about the murders of three Brooklyn shopkeepers is "John Doe Duffel Bag," but they're not ready to officially call him a suspect. "We're not labeling him anything," a police spokesman told the New York Times of the man captured by a surveillance camera near the site of the most recent killing last Friday. What they are saying about him is that he's from Staten Island, he turns 64-years-old on Thanksgiving, and he "fits the description of the man" in the video. The Daily News says his name is Salvatore Perrone, and that several weapons, including a .22-caliber gun, were found— in a duffel bag — during a search of his girlfriend's Brooklyn apartment.
The weapon, a police source said, is a sawed off Ruger 10-22 rifle with a makeshift light on its barrel. It was found, the source said, in a duffel bag, along with .22 caliber ammunition and two knives, one of which appears to have blood on it. The second of the killer’s victims, Isaac Kadare, 59, was shot in the head and stabbed in the neck inside his Bensonhurst shop on Aug. 2.
Ballistic tests will determine if the gun is the same one used to kill the three merchants.
Perrone reportedly came into the 68th Precinct station house in Bay Ridge, and was later moved to the 67th Precinct, to discuss the deaths of three Middle Eastern men all killed by the same .22-caliber gun, sparking fears of a serial killer.
None of the three stores where the men were killed had security cameras, but police placed the man they think is Perrone near the She She Boutique on Flatbush Avenue, where 78-year-old Rahmatollah Vahidipour was shot to death. "He was in the vicinity ... roughly at the time we believe the [latest] murder took place," said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Meanwhile, the person of interest whose image initially circulated after the August killing has been cleared in the case after police interviewed him, before Perrone came forward. "It's no longer relevant," Kelly told reporters, according to the Times. "That individual washed out." Police have assigned 80 detectives to the three killings, the Daily News reports, "including one from the Hate Crimes Task Force and an FBI profiler."
The Daily News also talked to some relatives and neighbors of the slain store owners, who seem pretty convinced they'd seen Perrone before. The widow of 59-year-old Isaac Kadare, the second victim, said the man with the duffel bag had previously come into her husband's store with a woman she thought was his wife, who said they'd recently moved to Bay Ridge from Staten Island. A neighbor of 65-year-old Mohammed Gebeli, killed July 6 in his Bay Ridge clothing store, said the man had come to her own clothing business and tried to sell some dresses, but she didn't buy.
"My sister said, 'This guy isn't normal. He does not look like an honest, nice person,'" said Kadare's widow. "My sister got scared. She said, 'Tell your husband not to talk to this customer. There's something about him. Be careful.'"
This post has been updated throughout.