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Cops Find Gun in Duffel Bag of Person of Interest in Shopkeeper Killings

By  Joe Parziale Aidan Gardiner and Jesse Lent | November 21, 2012 10:15am | Updated on November 21, 2012 3:14pm

NEW YORK CITY — Investigators have found a .22 caliber rifle like the ones used to murder three Brooklyn shopkeepers in a duffel bag connected to the Staten Island man being questioned in the killings, NYPD sources said Wednesday. 

The bag and gun were found inside his girlfriend's Brooklyn apartment, police sources said. 

A gun with the same caliber was used to kill three men, the latest of whom, Vahidipour Rahmatollah, was shot last Friday in his Flatbush shop. 

The unidentified man turned himself in yesterday, after his photo was widely circulated by police, who said he was caught on surveillance footage near the most recent murder scene.

Police also believe they have caught him in surveillance footage taken near where Isaac Kadare was shot, but sources said the footage is grainy. 

Cops dubbed him "John Doe Duffel Bag" because of the bag he was carrying at the time.

He's believed to be a door-to-door salesman in the garment industry, sources said.

At Garage Clothing, a Brooklyn store where the man did business, workers were stunned to hear he was being questioned in the murders.

When police first began circulating the surveillance image of the man with the duffel bag, one worker at Garage said she and other employees were joking about the resemblance between the photo and the man they knew.

"We said, 'We'll have to tell him about this,'" recalled the worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But then reporters started showing up at Garage and workers learned the man was being questioned by police.

"I don't know him to be like that," the worker said. "We're shocked.... He just seemed normal, harmless." 

The man has not yet been officially declared a suspect, police said. That determination could come later Wednesday, a spokesman said. 

Yasmin Rahmatollah, the latest victim's daughter, said she's been scrambling to understand the swirl of information coming out about the person responsible for her father's death.

“I’m confident in the police, but they don’t have any real evidence against him, so I can’t judge for now," Rahmatollah said Wednesday. "But whoever it is must be psychotic.”

Yasmin said she is frightened because whoever killed her father seemed to have studied his shop closely and could kill again unless he or she is caught soon. 

She said her father was "the best father and the best neighbor."

“Everybody loved him," she said. "He was a very hardworking, a very honest man. A lot of people are going to miss him."