Siavash Karampour and Koory Mirzeai of the Yellow Dogs weren't home when a gunman opened fire at their Brooklyn row house on Monday. But fellow band members and brothers Arash and Soroush Farazmand were shot to death, along with their roommate Ali Eskandarian, by an ex-member of another Iranian band, the Free Keys, police said. The gunman then shot himself on the roof.
The band members said they met in Iran in 2006, and worked together to build an underground venue where they would play shows. They were striving to make a community in the U.S. after moving to New York to have more freedom to play. Their apartment was a hangout for artists, friends and musicians.
"For now, it's impossible to even manage a future without our friends, and no explanation can make sense or begin to justify what has happened in our lives," Karampour and Mirzeai said in a statement. "To say we are heartbroken does not come close. They are also taking up donations for a memorial service.
"These are they darkest hours of our lives. We are in shock, awe, blinded with rage and paralyzed with grief," they said.
Gunman Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, 29, was carrying about 100 rounds of ammunition in five magazines when he set out on the bloody rampage through the apartment, police said.
Afterward, investigators recovered 81 unfired rounds, some of them in magazines stashed in a guitar case found on an adjoining rooftop.
Records show the Spanish-made assault weapon was purchased by someone else at an upstate New York shop that went out of business in 2006. The shooter's roommate allowed them to search their apartment in Queens. No more weaponry was found, but investigators seized his computer to study it for clues about how he may have obtained the rifle and more about his motive.
Rafie joined the Free Keys after the bass player couldn't get a visa, and the band came to the U.S. in December 2011. Free Keys member Pooya Hosseini said in the statement the band stopped working with Rafie in 2012 due to "personal and musical differences."
"It became clear very quickly that he was not a natural fit within our friends, and his personal views conflicted with our approach to art and to the world," he said.
The Yellow Dogs came to New York in 2010, after they were the subject of a 2009 film, "No One Knows about Persian Cats," which told the semi-fictional tale of a band that played illegal rock shows there. The other victim, Eskandarian, was a singer-songwriter who toured with the Yellow Dogs. A 22-year-old artist was also injured in the shooting.
Eskandarian, 35, had just finished his memoir. Arash Farazmand, 28, had just received political asylum and his 27-year-old brother was working on new band material, according to the statement.
"Everything we had hoped and worked for was finally coming true ... the future was so incredibly bright," they said.
A memorial service is currently being planned.