Hunt for Merchant’s
By Paula Katinas
Bay Ridge – The family of murdered Valentino Fashion owner Mohamed Gebeli paid an emotional visit to the Fifth Avenue storefront in which he was killed. It was the family’s first visit to the scene since the July 6 slaying.
The family gathered outside the shop, at 7718 Fifth Ave., on Friday, July 29, for a press conference held by state Sen. Marty Golden at which he and business leader Habib Joudeh renewed their call for information that might lead to the killer’s capture.
The victim’s widow, Hanza Mohamed, joined her daughters – Mayar Elbarawi and Roushan Gebeli – and her mother, Gahghan Youssef, in standing next to Golden and Joudeh at the press conference.
Upon her arrival at the scene of her husband’s murder, Hanza Mohamed pressed her face against the store’s metal gate and looked inside the shop. During the press conference, she looked down and repeatedly wiped tears from her eyes. Neither she nor any of her family members spoke at the press conference.
Gebeli, 65, was found shot inside the store shortly after 11 p.m. on July 6. He had been shot once in the neck, police said. The merchant was rushed to Lutheran Medical Center that night, but was pronounced dead.
Golden and Joudeh each put up $5,000 for a reward to catch the killer. Golden said he hopes the $10,000 will spur someone to provide police with information.
“We know somebody saw something,” he said. “We’re looking to resolve a terrible crime. We need to get this killer off the street. Mr. Gebeli was a husband, a father, a neighbor. His family continues to mourn.”
Golden, a retired cop, said he believes the murderer is from Bay Ridge.
“We believe the person is here in our community. Crimes are usually committed by a person from within the community,” he said.
Police at the 68th Precinct, who are leading the investigation, have no suspects and no motive in the case, Golden said.
“I hope we are able to get the guy off the streets,” said Joudeh, owner of Pharmacy on Fifth, a drugstore located eight blocks away from Valentino Fashion, who said he knew Gebeli well.
“He was my friend,” Joudeh said.
The murder of Gebeli, who was Egyptian, has shaken Bay Ridge’s Arab-American community, Joudeh said.
Fifth Avenue store owners are also on edge. One merchant approached a reporter in the Royal Restaurant at 7609 Fifth Ave. shortly after the press conference to express his fears.
“I hope it doesn’t turn out to be a robbery gone bad. Then, we all have to worry,” he said.
Golden and Joudeh issued their joint reward offer a few days after the murder. So far, there has been no response, Golden admitted. He urged anyone with information to call the 68th Precinct at (718) 439-4211, or his office at (718) 238-6044.
“Even if it’s something that you don’t think is important, call. You could be giving police a piece of the puzzle that could help the investigation,” Golden said.