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NYC shop owner with concealed carry permit faces 7 years for inadvertently shooting would-be thief

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A New York City liquor store owner could face seven years behind bars after a video shows he shot a would-be thief who had been kicked off the premises along with an accomplice. But the head of a large bodega organization is calling on prosecutors to drop the charges. 

Francisco Valerio, 53, who owns Franja Wine and Liquors in Ridgewood, Queens, caught the two shoplifters stealing liquor bottles from the store at around 7:40 p.m. Monday and booted them out with the help of another clerk, the Queens District Attorney’s Office says. Video from inside the store shared with Fox News Digital shows one of the suspects dressed in red trying to stuff a liquor bottle into his jacket.

The situation outside then turned violent when 20-year-old suspect Kevin Pullatasi charged at the liquor store door. He pushed the door against the store worker, who responds by waving his hand at him as a shouting match ensues, video shows. The store worker is the owner’s brother.

Pullatasi then walked away before dropping his bag and charging at the door again. Pullatasi can be seen on video trying to kick and punch the store worker.

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A New York City liquor store owner, Francisco Valerio, could face seven years behind bars after video shows he shot a would-be thief, left. One of the suspects was seen trying to steal a bottle of liquor, right. (United Bodegas of America)

That’s when store owner Valerio appears in the video and can be seen trying to pistol-whip Pullatasi, who then drops to the ground having been shot. Pullatasi then dragged himself against a car before Valerio went over to check on him.

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. The DA’s office says that Valerio has a concealed carry permit and that the gun was concealed in his rear waistband.

Pullatasi, who was treated in hospital for a gunshot wound, was charged with petit larceny, as was Edwin Poaquiza. They both have addresses in Brooklyn and prosecutors say they stole two bottles of liquor.

“All three of the defendants in this incident will have to answer charges against them,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement.

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Store owner checks on suspect after shooting him

Valerio goes to check on the would-be thief. (United Bodegas of America)

“After the store was targeted by these shoplifters, the stolen merchandise was recovered and the two men were escorted out of the store. At that point, 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.”

The decision to prosecute Valerio was slammed by Fernando Mateo, the founder and spokesperson for United Bodegas of America, who said that the perpetrators’ crew had targeted the store at least four times before. 

“Frequent flier thieves must be stopped, we have the right to defend ourselves, our businesses and our communities,” Mateo told Fox News Digital via a statement. “District attorneys must stop prosecuting victims and charging criminals when they commit crimes.”

Mateo said that business owners are constantly dealing with looting, shoplifting, assaults and robberies, among other crimes. He also slammed New York’s often perceived soft-on crime policies, including bail reform which he demanded be changed.

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The suspect kicks the store door and the duo outside

The suspect kicks the store door, left, and the duo are seen outside, right. (United Bodegas of America)

“Francisco Valerio is a licensed gun owner, has been married for 30 years, has two children and is a Columbia graduate. He is a liquor store owner and a member of the 83rd precinct community, he will lose everything he has worked for if prosecuted,” Mateo said. 

“DA Malinda Katz is holding his future in her hands, she must drop the charges.”

Neighbors living near the store said they supported Valerio’s actions.

“He had a permit to carry it and they were assaulting him, and it was an accident. He shouldn’t be in trouble,” one neighbor told Fox 5. 

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