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NYPD questioning man in connection with Brooklyn killings

MYFOXNY.COM -

The NYPD is questioning a so-called person of interest in connection with the series of murders of shopkeepers in Brooklyn, a source told Fox 5.

Police sources say the man is being questioned at the 67th Precinct in Brooklyn.

He came in voluntarily and at this point he is only being questioned.

The person seen in surveillance video, dubbed "John Doe Duffel Bag," is talking to detectives, according to the NYPD.

Police sources say he was near the scene of each shooting since July.

Detectives Wednesday recovered a sawed-off rifle believed to have been used in the mysterious shooting deaths, reported the Associated Press.

The Ruger 10-22 rifle had a makeshift light attached to its barrel and was found inside a duffel bag belonging to a balding, middle-aged man.

The latest was Friday night at the She She Boutique on Flatbush Avenue where Rahmatollah Vahidipour, 78, was murdered.

A .22 caliber firearm was used in each shooting, all at point blank range, police said. In each case the victim's face and head was covered with clothing, but very little money was taken, police said.

The shootings happened in Brooklyn within four miles of each other.

Another common thread: all three men were of Middle Eastern descent.

Dr. N. G. Berril, who conducted the court-ordered psychological evaluation of serial killer Joel Rifkin, told Fox 5 the three murders may be bias hate crimes by a former military person targeting men of Middle Eastern descent.

The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit provides help on complex cases, including those involving spree and serial killings.

Police say more than 80 detectives have been assigned to the case, including ones from the Hate Crimes Task Force.

As for the person seen in the "John Doe Duffel Bag" video, the victims' relatives have reportedly said they remember seeing him before the shootings.

But police say he is only being questioned.

The NYPD has offered rewards of $22,000 in each of the homicides for information leading to the arrests and convictions of the person or persons responsible.

Anyone with information about the shootings is encouraged to contact the NYPD Crime Stoppers hot-line anonymously:

800-577 TIPS (8477)

www.nypdcrimestoppers.com

Text your tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577

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