Four Brooklyn-Based Iranian Musicians Shot to Death in Murder-Suicide

Early Monday morning, a musician from Iran reportedly shot and killed two members of an Iranian-formed rock band before killing himself at an East Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment. Another Iranian musician was also killed in the attack.

According to the New York Post, the musician used a semi-automatic rifle in the attack, which started just after midnight on Monday morning. The gunman wounded one person outside before walking inside the apartment, where he killed two people on the second floor and one person—who was reportedly still in bed—on the third floor. Two people hid in the apartment's first floor bathroom; they were both unharmed. The shooter then climbed to the building's roof and shot himself in the head, according to the NYPD.

The New York Times spoke to neighbors who said the shooter and his victims were in a band named the Yellow Dogs. The gunman had recently been kicked out of the group, according to reports, though it's not yet clear why.

All of the band's members were from Iran and were featured in an award-winning documentary, No One Knows About Persian Cats, about underground rock music in Tehran. Shortly after the documentary was released in 2009, the band members left for the United States, where they were granted asylum in 2010.

UPDATE: The alleged shooter has been identified as Raefe Ahkbar Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ahkbar Rafie was kicked out of the band sometime in the past year for selling the group's equipment. The victims were also identified:

  • Soroush Farazmand, 27, a guitarist in the band
  • Ali Eskandarian, 35, the band's singer
  • Arash Farazmand, the band's drummer

Sasan Sadeghpourosko, 22, was shot twice in his right arm and is in stable condition.

UPDATE 2: Rafie was not a member of the Yellow Dogs, according to the band's manager, who also said only two band members were killed in the shooting. From the manager's statement, via Pitchfork:

The shooter was not a former member of the band The Yellow Dogs, he was in another band from Iran and the two groups were acquaintances in the past. A personal conflict between the guys resulted in the dissolution of their relationship in 2012. The shooting resulted in the death of two of the members of the Yellow Dogs, Sourosh Farazmand (guitarist) and Arash Farazmand (drummer), along with a friend of theirs, fellow musician and author Ali Eskandarian. The shooter died from a self inflicted bullet wound on site.

UPDATE 3: The Wall Street Journal has a revised timeline of the shooting.

On Monday morning, around midnight, Mr. Rafie gained access to the building's roof, Mr. McCarthy said. He went on to a third-floor terrace and fired a shot through the glass door leading into the living room, striking Mr. Eskandarian in the head, Mr. McCarthy said.

Mr. Rafie entered a third-floor bedroom and shot Arash Farazmand in the head, Mr. McCarthy said. He made his way to the second floor, where he entered another room and shot Soroush Farazmand while he was sitting on a bed, Mr. McCarthy said.

Mr. Rafie then fired in the direction of another bedroom, striking Sasan Sadeghpourosko, 22, twice in his right arm, Mr. McCarthy said.Mr. Sadeghpourosko was in the room with his brother—they both fled the house and called 911. Mr. Sadeghpourosko was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was treated and released.

The gunman then went back to the third floor, where he encountered a 28-year-old vocalist of the Free Keys who was hiding in a bedroom closet, police said.

Mr. Rafie kicked open the closet door told the man, "I'll kill you," the official said.

The vocalist told police he tried to reason with Mr. Rafie and pleaded for his life when the gunman began firing, Mr. McCarthy said. The vocalist told police he grabbed the gun, and during a struggle, the magazine fell out, Mr. McCarthy said.