NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Brooklyn grand jury on Tuesday indicted a clothing salesman on murder charges in the shooting deaths this year of three shopkeepers of Middle Eastern descent, prosecutors said.
Salvatore Perrone, 63, was arrested a week ago on suspicion of murder when a witness in a pharmacy matched his likeness to a photo circulated by police after it was captured on a security camera near the latest killing this month.
The grand jury accused Perrone of six counts, one of first-degree murder and one of second-degree murder for each of the three victims, who were shot on July 6, August 2 and November 16, the Brooklyn District Attorney said in a statement. If convicted he faces a life sentence in prison without parole.
A defense lawyer for Perrone could not be reached for comment.
All three victims were killed in clothing stores they owned, and all were killed by the same gun, prosecutors said.
Upon arresting Perrone, police said a .22-caliber rifle was recovered in a duffel bag belonging to him at his girlfriend's apartment, and that ballistic tests found shell casings retrieved from the three crime scenes were fired from the same rifle.
Perrone's fingerprint was found on the weapon, and he made statements implicating himself, police said.
The killings began on July 6 when Mohamed Gebeli, 65, was shot in his clothing store, Valentino Fashion. On August 2, Isaac Kadare, 59, was killed in his Amazing 99 Cent Deals store. On November 16, Rahmatollah Vahidipour, 78, was gunned downed in the She She Boutique.
Perrone was an independent seller of men's and women's apparel who often called on small merchants in Brooklyn, police said.
Investigators said they had yet to determine a motive for the attacks, but police have noted all three victims were older men of Middle Eastern descent. Each shooting occurred near closing time when the victims were alone in their shops.
The heads of all the victims "were covered by either cardboard or clothing" when they were discovered, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)