(NEW YORK) — A Staten Island, N.Y., man in his 60s, dubbed “John Doe Duffel Bag,” was picked up by police for questioning in connection with a series of shopkeeper slayings, ABC News has learned, following tips to police from residents who recognized him in video recorded near two of three shopkeeper slayings.
He had been sought in connection with the murders of three Brooklyn, N.Y., shopkeepers — all of whom were of Middle Eastern descent — senior police officials said.
Officials stressed that the man was not under arrest and was not being called a suspect.
However, he had connections with the clothing business — and possibly once had a clothing store — and reportedly carried merchandise in his duffel bag, law enforcement sources said.
Clothing was used to cover the bodies of the murder victims, police have said.
Police picked up the man Tuesday evening near 80th Street and Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, following a tip, according to ABC News sources.
Earlier on Tuesday, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that he had hoped the man would come forward.
“So we can talk about the circumstances going on in the immediate area at that time,” Kelly said, referring to the most recent slaying. New York police had said they wanted to question the man after surveillance tape appeared to place him in the vicinity of two of the murders.
The middle-aged white man was spotted on cameras around 6 p.m. near the She She boutique in the Flatbush neighborhood, where 78-year-old Rahmatollah Vahidipour was found dead at 7:11 p.m. Friday. Police said he is likely the person captured on fuzzier video from near the site of the second of the three slayings.
The second video, from Aug. 2, appeared to show “John Doe Duffel Bag” near the Bensonhurst shop where Isaac Kadare was murdered with the same .22 caliber gun that was used to kill Vahidipour, sources told ABC News.
The trio of killings took place within a five-mile radius, each occurred at a small shop that lacked security cameras, and each victim was over 50, police said. It was not clear whether the victims were robbed.
Shell casings from the gun used in Vahidipour’s murder match the casings found at two other murders scenes this summer.
Kelly said that in each murder, the killer partially covered the victims with cardboard or clothing.
The FBI has complied with a NYPD request for a profiler to help identify who might have killed these three people.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire