By Matt Pearce
7:37 PM EST, November 11, 2013
The New York Police Department has identified three Iranian musicians killed by a former friend in a Brooklyn murder-suicide that left four dead early Monday.
Soroush Farazmand, 27, and Arash Farazmand, 28, of the Iranian rock band Yellow Dogs were shot to death along with fellow Iranian musician Ali Eskandarian, 35, at an apartment in East Williamsburg, police said.
Police said Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, 29, was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on the roof of the victims' apartment.
"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," the Yellow Dogs' manager, Ali Salehezadeh, said in a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times on Monday, disputing news reports that the band members were killed by a member who had been kicked out.
Salehezadeh said Rafie had a "personal conflict" with the Yellow Dogs that "resulted in the dissolution of their relationship in 2012."
The Yellow Dogs began as an underground post-punk band in Tehran before a film featuring the group put it under a spotlight both internationally and with their conservative religious rulers at home.
News reports said members of the group secured asylum in the U.S. in 2010, when the group made an appearance at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. (A spokesman for the U.S. State Department said that as a matter of policy, he couldn't confirm individual asylum statuses.)
The band eventually settled in the Williamsburg area, one of New York's most prominent cultural dens, and regularly played shows at venues across Brooklyn.
"They sounded a bit like Duran Duran, but also could be dark and intense like Joy Division," Damon Campagna, a friend of the band members, told The Times. "However, they didn't sound dated or like a nostalgia act; they sounded fresh and energetic, which I suspect is due to the relative musical isolation of Iran compared to the avalanche of styles young musicians are exposed to here."
Fellow musician Eskandarian was born in Pensacola, Fla., but grew up in Iran, the son of an Iranian air force officer, according to a personal music bio posted on a promotional website for musicians.
“I was always around music,” Eskandarian says in the bio, which details the family's move from Iran to Germany and ultimately to America. “It’s hard to find an Iranian party without dancing and singing. The Islamic revolution has not been successful in trying to stop people from having a good time.”
Detectives suspect there was a dispute over money that triggered the slayings, which are still under investigation, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told the Associated Press.
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