4 dead in East Williamsburg; Iranian rock band member shot self on roof after killing three former mates

A rock musician fatally shot three people, at least some of them his bandmates, in a townhouse in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, early Monday, the police and neighbors said.

The gunman then took his own life, the police said.

Neighbors said the assailant, who was not immediately identified, was a member of a band of Iranian expatriates called the Yellow Dogs. His victims were said by the police to be men in their 20s and 30s. At least one victim lived in the three-story building, at 318 Maujer Street, which the band, according to its Facebook page, called home.

It was not immediately clear what set off the shooting.

At least three of the band members are originally from Tehran. It was there that they got their start in 2006, rehearsing in a makeshift soundproof studio and organizing clandestine concerts to avoid punishment by Iranian authorities. “We were super lucky we didn’t get caught,” said the bassist, identified in a video interview last year only as Koory.

The men described the long process of seeking asylum in the United States and then finding themselves play at prominent rock venues around New York, including Webster Hall, as well as at the South by Southwest music festival. “We can’t go back to Iran,” the singer, known as Obash, said in the interview. “Our parents, they have never seen us play.” Members of the group received asylum last year.

“You don’t feel like a foreigner in New York City at all,” Obash said. “Right now, we appreciate everything.”

Martin Greenman, 63, a recycler who works a few doors away from the apartment, said, “They were always together and they were always friendly.”

“They looked like rockers,” he said.

Their Twitter profile calls them “a post punk/dance punk band from Tehran/Iran, living in Brooklyn at the moment.”

The gunman did not appear to have forced his way into the home, the police said. Once inside, he marched upstairs, shooting his victims on the second and third floors. He continued to the roof, where he shot himself in the head with the gun, which the police said appeared to be an assault rifle.

The surviving victim, 22, was taken to Elmhurst Hospital with a gunshot wound to the right arm, the police said.

At least two other people were in the home during the shooting and were being interviewed Monday morning by detectives. It was not clear if the gunman spoke during the shooting.

Marcus Durant, 56, an electrician who lives just a few doors down from the band on a block of residential and industrial buildings, said he would sit on his porch, sip beer and listen to the music coming from their building. “They’re always playing music,” he said. “I sit outside and listen to them. Pretty good stuff.”

He described the ethnic mix of young people who frequented the building as a “hodgepodge.” He added that he was friendly with the band.

“They were a bunch of good kids,” he said. “You see them on their little skateboards in their tight pants.”

The men were known on their block for their long hair and tight jeans and were often seen lugging their instruments, the very picture of a young and aspiring band in an area of the city teeming with them.

They sang, partied, ate meals and skateboarded together, neighbors said.

Mr. Durant said he heard around five gunshots Monday morning just after midnight.

“I heard a few things popping,” he said. “I thought it was fireworks.”

By The New York Times


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