UPDATE: Murder-Suicide in Williamsburg Last Night

Update 9pm: According to NBC News, the shooter has been identified as 29-year-old Ali Akbar Mohammed Rafie, who had been kicked out of another band, The Free Keys, last year. The weapon used was specifically a .308-caliber assault rifle. The two bandmates who were killed were brothers (Arash Farazmand and Soroush Farazmand). They were 27 and 28 years old, respectively.

Update 1:30 p.m.: Here is information from the Yellow Dogs’ manager, provided by Pitchork

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.

319 Maujer is visible at the far end of the street, which was completely blocked off this morning

It’s rare that we have to report on crime in the neighborhood– especially at this scale.  Last night, just past 12am, a man whose identity is being protected at this time, shot and killed 3 of his bandmates in their East Williamsburg apartment, before ending his own life. A fifth man, 22-year-old Sasan Sadeghpourosko, was shot in the arm and is currently in stabile condition, according to ABC Local.

Two of the victims were members of the post-punk band, The Yellow Dogs, and were originally from Iran. The shooter was allegedly kicked out of the band for stealing equipment, but it’s not certain if that motivated the shooting.

According to news reports, police were called to the scene at 318 Maujer Street, where they found a 27-year-old an with a gunshot wound (Soroush Farazmand) on the 2nd floor; 2 more men (Ali Eskandarian, 35, and Arash Farazmand, 28) were found shot in the head on the floor above and the gunman’s body was found on the roof next to the assault rifle he used. Eskansarian was a friend of the bandmates, but not in the band himself.

This photo was taken from the band's facebook page, from left to right: Arash Farazmand (identified victim), Siavash Karapour, Koory Mirz, Soroush Farazmand (identified victim), & Ali Eskandarian (identified victim)

The live-in recording studio housed all the band members, except for the shooter. They were active in the local indie scene, playing a September show at the Knitting Factory. They also performed at Rooftop Films, Northside Festival, Union Pool, and Glasslands.

Shooting victim, Soroush Farazmand, at Shea Stadium, photo from the band's facebook page

I was in the area so I walked to the scene of the crime to find the entire street blocked off and not surprisingly, news crews everywhere. The most surreal sight was the cops lifting the caution tape for a man wheeling his son in a stroller, who needed to leave his apartment.

He told me that he’s lived on the street for a while and knew there were drug dealers in the area, but that he never expected something like this to happen. He also, wisely, pointed out the typical news narrative that gets presented with these kinds of stories– especially the focus on the fact that the men were from Iran. He said that he was barraged by reporters this morning asking if he knew the men and what he thought of them; he declined to answer.

Later, I saw some older men discussing the situation animatedly on Grand Street and asked them what they thought. One of them, a Marine Corps veteran, said, as if to explain what happened, “Well, they were from Iran.”

It’s important to remind ourselves not to associate a rare and horrific incident with the kind of ingrained racism that often comes from the same mainstream news sources that report these crimes. Maybe instead, we should focus on how someone with a clear mental instability got their hands on a military assault rifle.

If anyone has any additional information, please comment below. Our thoughts go out to the families of the victims.  We are sure that this tragic incident will be deeply felt in the local music community, as well as the surrounding neighborhood.

Update 1:30 p.m.: Here is information from the Yellow Dogs’ manager, provided by Pitchork

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.

 

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