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NYC liquor shop owner arrested for accidentally shooting crook he was pistol-whipping



A liquor store owner is facing charges after he accidentally shot a robber he was pistol-whipping during a wild brawl inside his Queens store, police said Tuesday.

Francisco Valerio, 53, was arrested for reckless endangerment for allegedly firing off a round during his struggle with two crooks inside Franja Wines and Liquors in Ridgewood about 7:45 p.m. Monday.

“We heard a bang. We weren’t sure if it was a gunshot but then a lot of people showed up,” said Pawen Khohti who lives in a fourth-floor apartment above the liquor store.

Within moments, ambulances had shown up to cart the wounded robber off, the 33-year-old tenant said.

“We saw one person handcuffed and one in the ambulance,” Khohti said. “They looked young.”

The store owner, who has a valid license for the pistol, was fighting off the robbers when he struck one of them with the gun inside the store on Wyckoff Ave. near Putnam Ave., a police source said. A shot went off, hitting one of the crooks in the stomach.

The conflict began a few minutes earlier when Edwin Poaquiza and Kevin Pullutasi, both 20, entered the store and tried to swipe some liquor bottles, cops said. Valerio stopped them and booted them out of the store, cops said.

But the duo returned a few minutes later and allegedly attacked Valerio.

“The guy punched him,” Valerio’s wife told the Daily News Tuesday.

The store owner grabbed his pistol as he fought the two men off and errantly fired off a shot, striking Pullutasi in the stomach, cops said.

The wounded Pullutasi was arrested at the scene, along with Valerio.

Poaquiza ran off but was nabbed about a block away.

Medics took Pullutasi to Elmhurst Hospital, where he is expected to recover. Cops charged the two accused crooks with robbery, assault and menacing.

Valerio was not hurt in the struggle, his brother Francisco said.

“He’s OK. Nothing happened to him,” Francisco explained, fretting over the criminal charges filed against his sibling.  “My brother is an honest man and I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“When you are in a situation like that, when it happens to your family, it’s hard and you don’t know the outcome,” he added. “This city is crazy.”

The superintendent for the building the liquor store is in didn’t think Valerio should have been arrested.

“I don’t know why they want to press charges. They robbed him and then went back a second time to beat the guy up. You know?” said Jimmy Ramphal, 65.

A customer agreed, saying Valerio was just defending himself.

“It cannot be a reckless charge. If you come into my store and provoke me, how can it be reckless?” asked Basil Douglas. “If you come into my place and try to do harm to me, what should I do?”

All three men were awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court Tuesday.

On May 7, a store clerk at a Queens bodega stabbed 21-year-old Dylan Marino to death in a confrontation over a stolen beer, cops said. The 21-year-old bodega worker was taken into custody and released that evening without charges. Members of a city bodega organization have claimed the worker acted in self-defense.

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