New York's police chief appealed on Monday for witnesses as a hunt intensified for a possible serial killer in Brooklyn, where three storekeepers have been shot dead in the last five months.
The last slaying was of Rahmatollah Vahidipour late on Friday in the She She Boutique in the working class Flatbush area of Brooklyn. The 78-year-old had been shot three times.
“We're asking anyone who was a customer in that store on that Friday to come forward, even if it was in the morning hours,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said on NY1 television.
“We believe that this murder took place after 4.00pm, but even if you were there in the morning we'd like to have people come forward and make themselves available to us,” Kelly said.
The same .22 calibre gun was used in each shooting and all three victims are storekeepers of Middle Eastern descent, raising speculation over possible hate crimes.
Another theory that has dominated New York newspapers has been that the killer is obsessed with the number eight, which features in all three murder scene addresses.
However, robbery has not been excluded as the main motive, police said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation will come in to help determine if a serial killer is at work, police said.
The other victims died on July 6 and August 2 in different areas of Brooklyn.