NEW YORK -- A New York City garment salesman accused of systematically shooting three Middle Eastern shopkeepers to death as they worked alone was held without bail Thursday.

Salvatore Perrone, who faces murder charges, denies killing anyone, his lawyer said.

Ken Jones said his client shows no remorse and appears "as though he could have some mental health issues."

Perrone was taken into custody Wednesday in the suspected serial killings. A pharmacy worker recognized Perrone, 63, as the balding man shown in surveillance footage leaving the scene of the most recent shooting, Nov. 16, with a duffel bag, police said.

Another shopkeeper came forward and said Perrone had gone into his store and questioned him about whether he worked alone and when he closed, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

"It's reasonable to assume he was going to keep doing this, and, by arresting him, we saved lives," Kelly said.

Detectives said they found the duffel bag at Perrone's girlfriend's home. Inside, they said, was a sawed-off rifle used in the killings, along with .22-calibre ammunition, black gloves, women's clothing, a bloody knife and a bottle of bleach.

Perrone's fingerprint was lifted from the murder weapon, Kelly said.

Initially, authorities thought the killer might have targeted the shopkeepers, who were from Iran and Egypt, because of their Middle Eastern backgrounds. But on Wednesday, Kelly said there was no motive he could speak of.

In the most recent killing, the Iranian-born Rahmatollah Vahidipour was shot three times in the head and chest.

After that killing, detectives discovered the same gun was used in the fatal shootings of two other shopkeepers. On July 6, Mohamed Gebeli, an Egyptian, was found shot. On Aug. 6, Isaac Kadare, also Egyptian, was shot in the head.

Police said they believe Perrone carried the murder weapon in the bag and travelled by subway.

Perrone went store to store trying to sell clothing, police said, but it was unclear if he had tried to sell to any of the victims.