BROOKLYN — The same gun was used to murder a pair of store owners in two Brooklyn neighborhoods and investigators believe a single suspect may have been responsible for both slayings, police officials said.
Cops are also trying to determine if the killer was targeting the shops — a 99-cent store at 1877 86th St. and a Valentino Fashion at 7718 Fifth Ave. — because of their addresses, which contain the numbers 7, 1 and 8, published reports said.
"We don't know if it's weird coincidence or something more," the NYPD's chief spokesman, Paul Browne said, according to the New York Post.
Sources said that investigators did not immediately find any evidence linking the murders to the numbers, but were warning shopkeepers in the neighborhoods, especially those with permutations of the numbers in their addresses, to be on the lookout.
According to sources, the suspect in the 99-cent store killing, depicted in a newly released sketch wearing sunglasses, may be erratic and looking for "quick cash."
Investigators were also poring over other cases homicide cases in the city, but had not found any similar instances as of Sunday.
On Aug. 2, Isaac Kadare, 59, was found stabbed and shot to death on the floor of his 99-cent store in Bensonhurst.
Less than a month earlier, on July 6, Mohammed Gebeli, 65, was found shot in the neck at his clothing store in Bay Ridge.
Kadare, a father of four and Egyptian immigrant, was mourned at a funeral service last Friday in which he was remembered as a charitable man.
"He was the nicest person in the world— very kind, very generous, very considerate," long-time friend Esther Yadid, 49 said at Magen David Synagogue.
The motive for the killings remained unclear Sunday, but sources said that the shooter may have been targeting the men because they were alone at closing time and had access to cash.
According to the Post, the killer stole $400 from Gebeli, but it was not clear if any money was taken from Kadare.
Both heads were covered, according to sources,but the significance of that was not immediately known.
Police are offering $12,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest of the killer in each case.
Cops say the suspect in Kadare's murder is a Hispanic man in his 20s, 5-foot-9, with a medium build.
He was last seen wearing sunglasses, a description that came from witnesses who saw him acting suspiciously in the area after the crime.