A survivor of this week's horrific shooting in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which took the lives of three Iranian musicians, has given a harrowing account of the attack to The New York Times in which the shooter is described as possibly suffering from mental illness.
Pooya Hosseini knelt behind a coat rack in his room at 318 Maujer Street after realizing that a gunman was going on a rampage through the building. Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, formerly a bandmates of Hosseini's, had already shot and killed Soroush and Arash Farazmand, members of the popular band The Yellow Dogs, and another musician, Ali Eskandarian.
Initially Hosseini thought the shooter was someone else. He wanted to call the police, but could only remember the Iranian equivalent of 9-1-1. "That was the worst moment in my life,” he told The Times. “I was just sure they just wanted to kill this group of Persians."
And that's when Rafie entered his room and pointed a rifle at the coat rack and, according to Hosseini, said in Persian, "You think my bullets are not going to go through those coats and your body and the wall?"
'Definitely, sure, but don’t kill me," Hosseini says he replied, also in Persian. "Just let me talk to you."
Rafie had been kicked out of Hosseini's band, The Free Keys, about a year earlier. The two had met and become friends in Tehran.
Rafie had struggled after the move to New York, according to friends. "Some Iranians who come to New York have these high hopes and dreams of what it’s like to live here,” Iranian singer Melody Safavi told New York. “They expect things that aren’t really realistic. When they come here, they become disappointed. Some of them get depressed, anxious, and isolated. I think that’s what happened to [Rafie].”
As Hosseini and Rafie talked, it became apparent not only that Rafie was upset about being kicked out of the band, but was also maybe suffering from some paranoid delusions.
"[Rafie] said, ‘You had a plan to bring me here and put me in a band, but you did it just to bring me here and fix me with a group of Freemasonry,'" Hosseini recalled to The Times. Rafie also told Hosseini he was being trained to blow up government buildings in New York.
Hosseini told The Times that eventually Rafie decided it was time for both of them to die. "I need to kill you and then I need to kill myself," Rafie said, according to Hosseini. "This is what I have to do. This is what I have to do."
Hosseini then grabbed the gun, for which he and Rafie each fought for control while bullets fired out of the weapon and through the walls, until the magazine was empty. Hosseini tackled Rafie to prevent him from reloading.
Hosseini then fled, and Rafie grabbed an extra magazine and headed to the roof of the building, where he reloaded, pointed the rifle under his own chin, and pulled the trigger.