Two of the dead were brothers and members of the group the Yellow Dogs, who came to the U.S. from Iran three years ago after appearing in a film about the underground music scene there, according to band manger Ali Salehezadeh. Another person killed was also a musician but wasn't in the band, and the wounded person was an artist, he said.
The shooter was a member of another band from Iran, the Free Keys, who knew the victims but hadn't spoken to them in months because of a "petty conflict," Salehezadeh said.
Preliminary reports from police were that the shooter had been a member of the Yellow Dogs but was kicked out. Commissioner Raymond Kelly said it appeared to be a dispute over money, but police were investigating the motive as well as the relationships between the victims and the shooter.
The four victims lived in a row house in East Williamsburg, an industrial neighborhood home to mostly warehouses where artists can rent cheaper space than in trendier parts of the city.
The shooting happened shortly after midnight. Kelly said the gunman opened fire through a window, then went inside and continued firing. Police found a 27-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the chest on the second floor. Two others were found shot in the head on the floor above, a 35-year-old and another whose age wasn't immediately known. A 22-year-old artist was wounded in the arm and was hospitalized in stable condition.
The gunman was found on the roof with a self-inflicted shot to the head, police said. An assault-style rifle was found next to the body. Kelly said it had been purchased in upstate New York in 2006 and police were investigating its history.
The names of the victims and the shooter were not immediately released.
The Yellow Dogs played recent gigs in New York at indie rock venues like the Knitting Factory and Brooklyn Bowl, and their dance music sound is a little like Joy Division. Originally from Tehran, 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 in Tehran.
Photographer Danny Krug said they were nice guys who held down day jobs and played music at night.
"Originally they were from Iran, and they just wanted to play rock music," said Krug, 24, who lives in Brooklyn. "And you can't do that there, so they managed to make their way over here."
The band often threw parties at their apartment, Krug said.
Martin Greenman, 63, works around the corner from the shootings and said he would see the band members coming and going with their instruments.
"They seemed really nice, not violent or anything, just your typical guys," he said. "They never caused any trouble. I see them almost every day, it's really a shock."
Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz and Meghan Barr and researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report.
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