By Robert F. Worth, The New York Times
Police have arrested a Brooklyn man who they believe has shot and
killed four shopkeepers without provocation in Brooklyn and Queens
since early last month, Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced last
The suspect, Larme Price, 30, confessed on Saturday to the four
slayings, which terrorized residents and small-business owners and
had been described as the work of a serial killer, the police said.
Mr. Price said he was motivated by a desire to kill people of Middle
Eastern descent after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Kelly
said at a news conference at police headquarters.
Only one of the four victims, all foreign-born men, was from the
Middle East, but Mr. Price was apparently under the impression that
they all were, Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Price, the police say, shot the four victims in the head, usually
without demanding money. He will be prosecuted first by the district
attorney's office in Brooklyn, where three of the killings took
place, Mr. Kelly said. A law enforcement official said charges would
include multiple counts of first-degree murder, a crime that could be
punishable by death. He will also face two counts of attempted
murder, Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Price drew attention to himself when he walked into the 77th
Precinct station house on Friday night and offered to help the police
find the killer, Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Price told investigators the killer went by the nickname "Dog"
and "appeared eager to help the investigation," Mr. Kelly noted. The
investigators quickly became suspicious of Mr. Price, whose walk and
appearance, they say, resembled that of the killer. They did not have
enough evidence to detain him. But the next day, speaking to
investigators on a cellphone, Mr. Price broke down and confessed to
the killings, Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Price said he was confessing because he had been reading the
Bible, particularly the commandment "Thou shalt not kill," Mr. Kelly
said, and because he was concerned about his two daughters.
The police said Mr. Price did not appear to have been involved in a
fifth fatal shooting that took place at an auto parts store in East
New York, Brooklyn, on March 1. Members of the task force assigned to
the case had believed that killing was carried out by the same man.
Mr. Price told the police that he killed one of his victims, a
Russian-born man who worked at an all-night coin laundry in
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, because Mr. Price felt disrespected
when the man told him he could not sit in the store unless he was
doing laundry there, Mr. Kelly said.
Asked about Mr. Price's statement that he wanted to kill people of
Middle Eastern descent, Mr. Kelly said, "I believe it fits the
definition of a bias crime."
But Mr. Price's mother, Leatha Price, said yesterday that her son's
anger at Middle Easterners was a matter of mental illness, not ethnic
Speaking at the door of her apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Ms.
Price said her son had a history of drug abuse and mental health
problems, and that as recently as three weeks ago she had tried
unsuccessfully to have him admitted to Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn
because he appeared to be mentally unbalanced. She said her son
ranted wildly, claiming that the Central Intelligence Agency was
after him and that the hospital had put a tracking device in his hand.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, "he walked around scared all the time, he
couldn't sit still," Ms. Price said. At one point he said, "I'm going
to join the war," she added. After the most recent trip to the
hospital, he was scared to come out of the car, saying, " `They're
following me, Ma, they're following me,' " she said.
"We kept trying to get help for him, but they kept letting him go,"
Ms. Price said.
The police are investigating the possibility that Mr. Price is
mentally ill, Mr. Kelly said.
The police have also detained a man who was with Mr. Price during the
first killing, at a food market in Ozone Park, Queens, on Feb. 8, Mr.
Kelly said. That man, whose name was not released, is being
considered a witness. Mr. Price was alone during all the other
In addition to Mr. Price's confession, there is ample evidence
linking Mr. Price to all four killings, Mr. Kelly said. Investigators
have recovered the 9-millimeter Intertech handgun that they say was
used in the most recent killing, on March 20, at the Stop I Food
Market in Crown Heights. They said they had also found a distinctive
hat, gloves and other clothing that could be seen on surveillance
videotape taken at the scenes of other killings.
The gun and clothing were found at the home of Mr. Price's
girlfriend, who is pregnant with his child, Mr. Kelly said. She is
not the mother of Mr. Price's two other children, who have different
mothers, Mr. Kelly added.
Mr. Price discarded the .40-caliber handgun he used in the first
three killings because he was out of ammunition and knew that the
police were looking for it, Mr. Kelly said. That gun has not been
Mr. Price, who is unemployed, has eight prior arrests dating back to
1989, on charges including robbery, assault, burglary and criminal
possession of a weapon, Mr. Kelly said. In the past, he has sold
textbooks, which the police believe were stolen, on the street near
the campuses of New York City colleges, Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Price lives at 1225 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, Mr. Kelly
said. The building is less than a block from the Stop I Food Market,
where a Yemeni immigrant was shot and killed on March 20. Several
residents in the building said yesterday that Mr. Price had often
After that shooting, the police say, Mr. Price also shot Yakoob
Aldailam, 21, an employee at the market, three times, seriously
wounding him. Like many others in the neighborhood, Mr. Aldailam, who
is still recovering at the Brookdale University Hospital and Medical
Center in Brooklyn, was relieved to hear the news that someone had
confessed in the string of deadly shootings, his family said.
"Before, when I went to see my nephew, he would tell me, `Hold my
hand, stay with me,' " said Adel Aldailam, Mr. Aldailam's uncle,
whose family owns the Stop I Food Market. "But now my nephew is very
happy. He is relieved a lot. Now he is going to be O.K."