A sawed-off .22-caliber rifle was found among the belongings of Salvatore Perrone, held in the deaths of three merchants.

Story highlights

Three shopkeepers had been killed since July 6 in New York City

Clothing salesman Salvatore E. Perrone, 63, has been arrested, police say

Perrone is charged with three counts of murder and faces life in prison if convicted

Commissioner Raymond Kelly on arrest: "We have saved lives"

New York CNN  — 

The New York Police Department has arrested a man in the shooting deaths of three New York City shopkeepers, according to Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Salvatore E. Perrone, 63, was arrested after ballistics tests showed the .22-caliber rifle found in his duffel bag was the same one used in the three crime scenes, Kelly said.

Detectives recovered the duffel bag from the house of Perrone’s girlfriend on Wednesday morning and found the carbine with a sawed-off stock and a combination laser/flashlight attached to its barrel with duct tape and two thick, pink rubber bands.

They also recovered a box of .22-caliber long-rifle ammunition, an empty magazine and a 12-inch kitchen knife with dried blood on it as well as two Buck folding knives, each with 7-inch blades.

Perrone is charged with three counts of murder and faces life in prison if convicted.

Police said the .22-caliber rifle was used to kill Vahidipour Rahmatollah, 78, at his She-She boutique on November 16; Isaac Kadare, 59, at Amazing 99-Cent Deals on August 2; and Mohamed Gebeli, 65, on July 6 at Valentino Fashion in Brooklyn.

Kelly didn’t provide a motive for the murders.

“I think it’s reasonable to assume that he was going to continue doing this and by arresting him, we have saved lives,” said Kelly.

Perrone was an independent seller of men’s and women’s clothing to boutiques in Brooklyn, said Kelly.

“After his photograph was circulated, we received several calls from proprietors of similar stores to inform us that they recognized Perrone as a salesman who would periodically visit their stores,” he said.

He was spotted at a pharmacy in Brooklyn on Tuesday evening and voluntarily agreed to come to the precinct.

In 2001, Perrone was also arrested in Franconia Township, Pennsylvania, on a forcible entry charge.

He has a house on Staten Island but has been residing with his girlfriend in Brooklyn for the past several years, police said.

It was not immediately clear whether Perrone had any legal representation.

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