Queens liquor store accused of shooting shoplifter: officials

A liquor store owner is accused of shooting a shoplifter outside his store in Queens on Monday, according to District Attorney Melinda Katz.

The shooting happened Monday night at Franja Wine and Liquors in Ridgewood after officials said Edwin Poaquiza and Kevin Pullatasi allegedly tried to steal a bottle of Ciroc vodka from the shelf.

Katz said they took merchandise, but it was recovered before they were escorted out of the store. 

Surveillance video shows the store owner, Francisco Valerio, 53, trying to stop them when they attacked, and he pulled out a licensed gun from his waistband. 


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Police say Valerio attempted to pistol-whip Pullatasi, but accidentally fired the gun, hitting Pullatasi in the stomach.

Valerio, a married father of two, has a legal concealed carry permit for his 9mm pistol. 

Pullatasi was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated. Criminal charges against Pullatasi are pending.

"Two crimes, inside and outside a liquor store, resulted in three people being charged in this case. All three of the defendants in this incident will have to answer the charges against them," Katz said in a statement. 

Poaquiza, 20, of Brooklyn, was arraigned Tuesday night on petit larceny charges. If convicted, he will face up to 364 days in jail. He is set to return to court on July 24.

The owner, Valerio, was arraigned Tuesday night and is facing charges including assault. If convicted, Valerio will face up to seven years in prison. He is set to return to court on July 29. 

The United Boedgas of America is standing behind Valerio, holding a rally on Wednesday evening to demand the charges against him be dropped.

"UBA has been in touch with the Valerio family and will support Francisco Valerio in this Case. Valerio who is 53, married 30 yrs, father of 2, NO criminal record was arraigned, charged with Reckless Endangerment & freed without bail last night. The videotape shows Valerio did not intentionally discharge his weapon," the United Bodegas of America said in a statement.

Neighbors living near the store also 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 said. 

If Valerio is convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.