US & Canada

Yellow Dogs gunman 'had been dumped by another band'

Members of the Yellow Dogs, (L-R) Soroush Farazmand, Koory Mirz, Siavash Karampour and Arash Farazmand are shown at The Gutter bowling alley in Williamsburg neighbourhood in New York in 2011
Image caption Soroush Farazmand (far left) and his brother, Arash Farazmand (far right), were killed in the attack

Police say a man who shot dead three fellow Iranian-expat musicians in New York before taking his own life was upset about being kicked out of a band.

Ali Akbar Mahammadi Rafie, 29, killed two members of the indie group Yellow Dogs and a third artist.

A member of another group, from which Rafie had been thrown out, tried to disarm him during the attack in the borough of Brooklyn, said police.

The Yellow Dogs' manager said the victims had fallen out with Rafie.

The attack began early on Monday as the attacker, armed with a rifle, climbed down from the roof of the apartment building.

Empty guitar case

He shot dead Ali Eskandarian, 35, a musician, through the window of a third-floor terrace, said police.

Image caption Drummer Arash Farazmand was found dead on the apartment's third floor

Arash Farazmand, 28, the Yellow Dogs drummer, was shot dead on the same level of the flat.

His brother, Soroush Farazmand, 27, the band's guitarist, was using his laptop in bed on the second floor when he received fatal gunshot injuries.

The Farazmands had just received political asylum in the US.

The Yellow Dogs' two other members were not at the flat at the time of the killing.

According to police, another tenant was hit in the arm as Rafie and a former fellow band mate from a group called the Free Keys struggled over the gun.

Rafie then retrieved ammunition that had fallen out of the firearm, went to the roof and shot himself in the head, said police.

The person wounded in the arm was taken to hospital and is said to be in stable condition.

Rafie "was upset that he wasn't in the band anymore", said New York Police Department spokesman John McCarthy.

The rifle was found next to Rafie's body, according to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.

He said it had been purchased in New York state in 2006, and police were tracking its history.

Police are also investigating whether a guitar case found near the scene was used to carry the weapon.

The gunman and members of the Free Keys are said to have had an argument over money, though it was unclear why he attacked the Yellow Dogs bandsmen.

'Petty conflict'

Ali Salehezadeh, the Yellow Dogs' manager, said Rafie knew the victims but had not spoken to them in months because of a "petty conflict".

"There was a decision not to be around each other," he said. "They were never that close to begin with. We thought it was all behind us."

Image caption Brooklyn's East Williamsburg area is known for its artists and musicians

The Yellow Dogs describe themselves on their Twitter feed as "a Post Punk/Dance Punk band from Tehran/Iran, living in Brooklyn at the moment".

The band is well-known among young Iranian expatriates in the US, reports Bahman Kalbasi of the BBC Persian service.

The shooting took place in Brooklyn's East Williamsburg neighbourhood, known for community of artists and musicians. The band members had lived in the neighbourhood.

"They seem like really nice guys," a local man, Martin Greenman, told the New York Daily News.

"They didn't seem in any way to be violent guys. They weren't rabble rousers or anything like that."

Members of an Iranian band with the same name were interviewed by US consulate officials in Istanbul in 2009 as they applied for a visa for a US tour, according to a diplomatic cable leaked to Wikileaks.

They described the "small but crazy" underground rock scene in Tehran, saying it was the community that offered "the most free expression" in Iran.

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