BROOKLYN — The garment salesman accused of gunning down three shopkeepers told investigators he killed the men on orders doled out by a foreign intelligence agency, sources said.
Salvatore Perrone, of Staten Island, confessed Wednesday to the killing spree after interrogators grilled him for more than 24 hours, sources said.
Perrone, who turned 64 Thursday, initially refused to discuss the murders, saying he couldn't say anything about them because he was a secret agent, sources said.
That's when the NYPD sent two Italian-speaking detectives posing as Italian special agents sent in from Rome to pretend to praise Perrone's work and get him to start talking about the killings, the sources added.
Once Perrone opened up, he told the would-be feds that he killed the shopkeepers — whom he knew through his work selling clothing in the garment industry — because he was acting on orders from the "Italian CIA," adding that he expected to be paid $800,000 once he had completed his mission, sources said.
Perrone, who sources described as "delusional" and "nuts," did not explain any further motive for the killings, sources said.
Perrone was arrested after cops found the weapon he allegedly used in the killings — a .22 caliber sawed-off rifle with a laser light taped to it — and a duffel bag in his girlfriend's Brooklyn home.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the weapon was the same gun used in the three homicides.
Cops also found ammunition and a 12-inch kitchen knife with dried blood and two buck folding knives.
Perrone's alleged killing spree began on July 6 when authorities say he fatally shot Mohamed Galebi in his Bay Ridge shop. He then is suspected of gunning down Isaac Kadare in his Bensonhurst shop on Aug. 2.
And on Nov. 16, authorities say Perrone shot Vahidipour Rahmatollah, 78, to death in his Flatbush boutique.
Sources said Perrone waited until his victims were alone to attack, and added his murder spree got increasingly more brazen over time. The location of his last attack on Flatbush was near the front of the store, which had a glass-front window easily visible from the street.
Authorities believe Perrone wasn't done killing. In a news conference Wednesday, Kelly said it was "reasonable to assume that he was going to continue doing this."
The salesman cased a fourth shop on Flatbush Avenue, but was interrupted by customers, sources said. The unidentified store owner there contacted cops after seeing a photo of a "person of interest" — a man cops dubbed "John Doe Duffel Bag" — circulated by the NYPD.
Yasmin Rahmatollah, the latest victim's daughter, said earlier Wednesday that she was struggling to understand all the information that was coming out about the person who killed her father.
"Whoever it is must be psychotic," she said.
With reporting by Joe Parziale.
Editors Note: An earlier version of this story said Perrone claimed to be an agent for the CIA. Sources later clarified that he claimed to be with the "Italian CIA."