Monday, November 21, 2011
Lankan beaten to death at sex shop in Brooklyn
Detectives were investigating the killing as a possible robbery, a law enforcement official said
The killer quickly fled the store, Video Xcitement, at 746 Third Avenue in Sunset Park, the police said. After attacking the clerk, he was seen taking videos off the shelves and placing them in a bag, the official said.
The suspect also tried to open the cash register, but was unsuccessful, the official added.
“He does remove property from the location, but we’re not sure if that is the motive,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing. “He could have got into a dispute with this guy over something, and kills him.”
The victim was identified by the police as Nimala Randunu, 54. The store’s owner said Mr. Randunu had worked for three years as a clerk at the shop, which sells pornographic films, leather paraphernalia, lingerie and other items, and features private viewing booths. A blinking neon sign above its door advertises it as being open around the clock.
The owner, who is also from Sri Lanka and would not give his full name, said he planned to return there to see Mr. Randunu’s wife and children.
“Oh, my God, what am I going to say? I need to fly there,” the owner said. He added that he came to the United States about two decades ago and now owned several adult entertainment businesses in Manhattan and out of state, in addition to the one in Brooklyn.
The owner spoke as crime-scene investigators worked in the small shop on the ground floor of a three-story building off 25th Street, not far from the waterfront.
The investigators used tape to try to lift fingerprints from the smashed glass door of the business and from its cash register. The law enforcement official said the store was equipped with a video surveillance camera.
“What’s on it, I don’t know,” the official said. “Detectives are looking at the video.”
The police said officers from the 72nd Precinct went to the store after a customer dialed 911 at 12:16 a.m. to report an assault in progress. They found Mr. Randunu, who lived on 27th Street, lying on the floor and bleeding heavily from his head, the official said.
The Emergency Medical Service arrived and pronounced him dead at the scene at 12:28 a.m., the police said.
Officials said that Mr. Randunu appeared to have severe blunt-trauma injuries to the head. The city’s medical examiner planned an autopsy.
To many who work on the stretch of Third Avenue that is marked by several sex shops and businesses, the killing seemed odd.
Janaka De Alwis, 38, who co-owns an adult store on the strip with his brother, said that he was held up three years ago, but that the robbers were arrested.
He said business was not as robust as it once was, and though a typical late night used to see 20 to 25 customers, that number had dwindled to about 10 people or so nightly.
“Sometimes five people,” said Mr. De Alwis, who is also from Sri Lanka. “Now it’s a dead business because of the Internet. I’m going to close soon because there’s no money and a lot of headaches.”
The New York Times