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Liquor store owner shoots shoplifting suspect; NYC district attorney presses charges against owner | Blaze Media



Outraged New York City residents are banding together to defend a liquor store owner who is facing serious charges after he shot a man who was caught on video stealing from his store.

Surveillance video showed two men, later identified as Edwin Poaquiza and Kevin Pullatasi, walk into the liquor store owned by Francisco Valerio on Wyckoff Avenue.

Portions of the security video were published by WABC-TV.

‘All the time, we ask them to leave. But this time was different.’

The video shows the two men being confronted by Valerio and another customer. The owner accuses Poaquiza of stealing off-camera while Pullatasi appears to stash a bottle of liquor in his jacket. A customer tells him to put it back before both men are pushed out of the store.

Outside, the video shows Pullatasi return and appear to challenge Valerio to a fight before the owner pulls out a gun. He strikes Pullatasi, and the gun goes off.

The 20-year-old was shot in the abdomen once.

Valerio told a detective that the shooting was accidental, and his defenders say it was in self-defense.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz charged both men but nailed the store owner with far worse charges than those assessed against the shoplifter.

“Two crimes resulted in three people being charged. The store owner was physically attacked by one of the men. Unfortunately, as alleged, that led to a reckless shooting by the store owner on a public street in broad daylight,” said Katz.

Valerio has been charged with assault in the second and third degrees, reckless endangerment in the first degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, a press release from Katz’s office said.

Pullatasi is expected to face only assault and petit larceny charges.

‘Do the right thing by him. He’s one of the good ones.’

Defenders of the store owner say he was acting in self-defense.

“It’s all based through the eyes of the person who was involved. Only Frank knows the circumstances that he was facing,” said Johnny Nunez, a friend of the family. “We have one crime, one crime. They were stealing. Frank did not commit a crime.”

His wife of 30 years says they would lose the store if he was convicted.

“These few days have been very, very hard. You would think somebody that is always doing the right thing, by others, by his peers, by everybody, and then this small incident happen, and he can lose his freedom over that? I don’t know what to say,” said Jael Valerio.

“If he has to go to jail, I don’t know what the kids are going to do,” she added.

The owner’s family says he has a permit to carry concealed.

Valerio’s brother, Miguel Valerio, said that the two alleged thieves were familiar to the family.

“It’s been bad. We’ve been dealing with these guys all the time. And all the time, we ask them to leave. But this time was different,” he explained.

Fernando Mateo of the United Bodegas of America held a press conference to defend Francisco Valerio and demand that the district attorney drop the charges against him.

“Francisco did not know what [the suspect] had in his hand. Could’ve been a gun, could’ve been a knife,” said Mateo.

They pointed out that Valerio, who is 53 years old, has no previous criminal record.

“New York is our witness. We’re not asking the district attorney for anything that’s not fair,” Mateo added.

“Do the right thing by him. He’s one of the good ones,” said his wife.

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