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Nation/World

November 23, 2012

Salesman held in merchant deaths

NEW YORK — A garment salesman accused of systematically shooting three shopkeepers to death as they worked alone in their clothing stores was held without bail Thursday.

Salvatore Perrone, who was held after his initial Brooklyn court appearance on murder charges, denies killing anyone, his lawyer said.

Attorney Ken Jones, who represented Perrone only for the arraignment and hadn’t spent that much time with him, said his client shows no remorse and appears “as though he could have some mental-health issues.”

Perrone, of Staten Island, will be assigned another lawyer when he returns to court on Tuesday, prosecutors said.

Perrone was taken into custody Wednesday in the suspected serial killings, which scores of detectives were investigating. A pharmacy worker recognized Perrone, 63, as the balding man shown in surveillance footage leaving the scene of the most recent shooting, Nov. 16, with a duffel bag, police said.

Another shopkeeper came forward and said Perrone had gone into his store and questioned him about whether he worked alone and when he closed, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

“It’s reasonable to assume he was going to keep doing this, and, by arresting him, we saved lives,” Kelly said.

Detectives said they found the duffel bag at Perrone’s girlfriend’s home. Inside, they said, was a sawed-off rifle used in the killings, along with .22-caliber ammunition, black gloves, women’s clothing, a bloody knife and a bottle of bleach.

Perrone’s fingerprint was lifted from the murder weapon, Kelly said.

Initially, authorities thought the killer might have targeted the Brooklyn shopkeepers, who were from Iran and Egypt, because of their Middle Eastern backgrounds. But on Wednesday, Kelly said there was no motive he could speak of.

In the most recent killing, Rahmatollah Vahidipour, an Iranian, was shot three times in the head and chest at the She She Boutique.

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