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Video shows Queens liquor store owner pistol-whipping, accidentally shooting shoplifter

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Surveillance video released Wednesday shows a crazed clash that ended with a Queens liquor store owner facing charges for accidentally shooting a shoplifter while pistol-whipping him.

Shop owner Francisco Valerio was charged with assault, reckless endangerment and weapon possession and was released without bail following a Tuesday arraignment.

Video showing him pistol-whipping the would-be thief and shooting him in the stomach also reveals what took place in the minute and a half between the time two young men walked into the store and when one of them lay bleeding on the sidewalk outside.

Advocacy group United Bodegas of America released the footage Wednesday.

“We are threatened, robbed, assaulted and looted every day, and the bad guys get away with it,” said Radahmes Rodriguez, president of the organization. “They are freed without bail, and nothing ever happens to them. When we fight back, we are jailed and in some cases prosecuted. This must stop.”

Valerio, 53, was in Franja Wines and Liquors on Wyckoff Ave. around 7:45 p.m. Monday when Kevin Pullutasi and Edwin Poaquiza, both 20, entered.

Video shows the two would-be shoplifters enter the store, with Pullutasi heading toward the back and Poaquiza engaging with Valerio at the counter. When Valerio walks away, Poaquiza takes a bottle from the shelf, tucks it inside his jacket and then places it back on the shelf.

A customer with his dog is about to leave the store when he stops and points toward Poaquiza. The owner’s brother Luis Valerio comes into sight of the camera, with Pullutasi following.

Within 30 seconds of arriving, Pullutasi and Poaquiza are being pulled toward the door by the Valerios and pushed outside.

Another video shows the interaction on the sidewalk, with the suspected shoplifters coming out of the store and beginning to walk away while the Valerios stand in the doorway. Pullutasi suddenly doubles back, lunging for the door and kicking it before turning to walk away again.

Luis Valerio emerges from the store and appears to yell something, and Pullutasi dumps his backpack on the sidewalk before running for the open door and delivering a flying kick.

A few seconds later, the Valerios run outside and Francisco Valerio strikes Pullutasi, who stumbles to the ground and repeatedly to try standing up again.

About a minute and a half elapsed between the time Pullutasi and Poaquiza entered Franja Liquors and when Pullutasi was shot.

One of the would-be shoplifters is pictured putting a bottle into his jacket before being caught. (United Bodegas of America)

Pullutasi, unable to regain his footing, drags himself along the sidewalk to rest his back against a parked car. Francisco Valerio and Poaquiza stand by the door until the liquor store owner goes to briefly check on Pullutasi about 30 seconds later.

Soon after, Luis Valerio walks over to Pullutasi, where blood is now covering his stomach, and the Valerios go back into the store, with Poaquiza following.

As Pullutasi lies bleeding alone on the street, several people, including what look like teens pass him and stare.

Liquor store owner Francisco Valerio leaves Queens Criminal Court on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Kerry Burke / New York Daily News)
Liquor store owner Francisco Valerio leaves Queens Criminal Court on Tuesday. (Kerry Burke / New York Daily News)

According to the Queens district attorney’s office, after the Valerios pushed the younger men out of the store, one of the Valerios kicked Pullutasi, who then retaliated by kicking and punching both of the Valerios and trying to slam the door on their hands.

The owner, who has a concealed-carry permit, pulled a 9-mm. handgun from his rear waistband and attempted to strike Pullutasi with the weapon but missed and the gun went off, the Queens DA’s office said Wednesday.

Medics took Pullutasi to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where he underwent surgery for internal bleeding, and bullet fragments were removed from his body, according to a criminal complaint.

Video released of a Ridgewood liquor store robbery that left one of the suspects shot in the stomach and the owner charged with assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. (United Bodegas of America)
Video shows chaos before the shooting. (United Bodegas of America)

Cops initially charged the two suspected shoplifters with robbery, assault and menacing, but Queens DA Melinda Katz said Wednesday the pair was being charged with petty larceny.

“They should be in jail for sure,” Luis Valerio said at a Wednesday night rally to support his sibling. “They’re criminals. My brother is an excellent man. He was just trying to protect our business.”

After Francisco Valerio was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Tuesday night, Poaquiza was separately arraigned and also released on his own recognizance. Pullutasi’s charges are still pending while he is in the hospital, said Katz.

Francisco Valerio’s brothers claimed to the Daily News that Poaquiza and Pullutasi have shoplifted from the store numerous times.

“They come back over and over again,” said Miguel Valerio, who wasn’t at the store at the time of the incident but said he recognized the shoplifters. “These two have hit us, like, five times. I recognize them. They steal anything that has alcohol.”

Fernando Mateo, spokesman for the United Bodegas of America, called on Katz to drop the charges against Francisco Valerio. The group has advocated for other shopkeepers who have recently gotten in trouble with the law.

Francisco Valerio’s wife was left terrified of the thought of her husband serving jail time.

“If he had to go to jail…” Jael Francisco started before she broke down in tears. “My husband is the perfect father for our kids.

“My husband is always trying to do the right thing,” she added. “If we lose our business, it’s unthinkable.”

Video released of a Ridgewood liquor store robbery that left one of the suspects shot in the stomach and the owner charged with assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. (United Bodegas of America)
Shop owner Francisco Valerio is pictured holding a gun (circled) after shooting one of the suspected shoplifters. (United Bodegas of America)

In July 2022, Jose Alba was arrested and then cleared in a fatal stabbing that was later deemed to be self-defense, after Austin Simon, 35, came behind the counter of a bodega and physically confronted Alba over what he said was a lack of respect for his girlfriend’s child.

On May 7, Natesh Natesh, 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.

Video released of a Ridgewood liquor store robbery that left one of the suspects shot in the stomach and the owner charged with assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. (United Bodegas of America)
Shop owner Francisco Valerio tends to his wounded victim after the shooting. (United Bodegas of America)

“When we stand our ground and fight back, we become the criminal in our own businesses,” Mateo said Wednesday. “Jose Alba, Natesh Natesh and now Francisco Valerio are all victims, not criminals.”

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