An unimaginable tragedy earlier this week very nearly had a death count that was one higher. A survivor of the Brooklyn murder-suicide that ended with four dead, including two members of Iranian refugee band the Yellow Dogs, has described how he was meant to be among the victims. Pooya Hosseini, a member of fellow Iranian band the Free Keys, told The New York Times the gunman came to his room to shoot him, but Hosseini managed to keep up a harrowing conversation until the police arrived. Hosseini survived after a climactic battle for control of the shooter’s weapon.
When Hosseni first heard gunshots in the East Williamsburg home, the Times reports, he didn’t know the attacker was Ali Akbar Mohammad Rafie, who used to be in the Free Keys. In a heartbreaking detail, at that moment Hosseini could remember just the 1-1-0 number used to call police in Tehran, not 9-1-1. “That was the worst moment in my life,” he told the Times. He stooped in the corner of his room by a coat rack and, when Rafie came in, spoke with him in Persian. “He asked me, ‘What happened to us?'” Hosseini is quoted as saying.
As Hosseini recalls, Rafie brought up various personal complaints and strange conspiracy theories. After Rafie insisted Hosseini rise to his feet, the two talked, separated only by the gun, for several minutes. When the sirens came, Rafie turned his head, and Hosseini saw his chance, taking hold of the gun. Bullets reportedly went all around the room, and when the clip emptied, both men were bloodied, but Hosseini wasn’t hurt.
Hosseini told the Times he yelled he’d been shot in the stomach, which startled Rafie. A physical struggle ensued, and when more ammunition dropped to the floor, Rafie took it toward the roof, trying to haul Hosseini with him. Rafie couldn’t do it before the police arrived, at which point he went out onto the roof alone. Hosseini locked the door behind him. Then, Rafie shot himself. Hosseini told the Times he would have preferred Rafie to spend the rest of his life in jail.
The account adds excruciating detail to an already horrific tale, and stands as a reminder of the ordeal Hosseini went through just to survive. An outpouring of grief over the event has come from the music community, with the Black Lips, who had ties to the Yellow Dogs, already offering a tribute. Surviving Yellow Dogs members Siavash ‘Obash’ Karampour and Koory Mirzeai have also issued a statement, including the heartbreaking observation, “This is not the way we ever imagined the world would learn of our story.”