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    NYC liquor store owner arrested after accidentally shooting would-be robber who assaulted him at his business: cops

    By Dorian Geiger, Amanda Woods, Patrick Reilly,

    2024-05-21

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2GHskR_0tEmzAFb00

    The owner of a Queens liquor store was arrested after he accidentally shot a would-be robber who assaulted him at his business late Monday, police and prosecutors said.

    Kevin Pullutasi and Edwin Poaquiza, both 20, barged into the Franja Wines and Liquors store on Wyckoff Avenue near Putnam Avenue in Ridgewood around 7:45 p.m. and allegedly tried to swoop up a few bottles of booze, cops said.

    Both were confronted and ordered to leave by the store’s 53-year-old owner, Francisco Valerio, and his brother who was there at the time, according to prosecutors.

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2MKAAa_0tEmzAFb00
    Valerio Francisco, 53, (right) leaving court after his arraignment on Tuesday. Wayne Carrington

    The Valerio brothers forced the duo out of the door while shouting at the suspects, prosecutors said, citing surveillance footage.

    The would-be thieves then started walking away, but Pullutasi turned back around and the argument got physical, according to the footage.

    Pullutasi was kicked before he launched his own attack.

    “Pullutasi then kicks both of them, strikes at them with his hands, and attempts to slam the door onto the defendant and his brothers’ hands,” a Queens assistant district attorney said Tuesday night.

    During the struggle, Valerio took out his legally owned 9mm pistol and attempted to whip Pullutasi with the gun, at which point the firearm went off, the surveillance shows.

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    The bullet struck Pullutasi in the stomach.

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1lJrEQ_0tEmzAFb00
    Kevin Pullutasi and Edwin Poaquiza, both 20, allegedly assaulted a worker at Franja Wines and Liquors store in Ridgewood around 7:45 p.m. citizen.com

    Valerio called 911 and surrendered his gun to responding police. He told investigators in a taped statement that “he meant to pistol whip” Pullutasi in the head but “that he accidentally shot him,” prosecutors said.

    Poaquiza ran off, but was nabbed a short time later, cops said.

    Both Pullutasi and Poaquiza were charged with robbery, third-degree assault and menacing, police said.

    Pullutasi remains in critical condition at Queens Hospital after undergoing surgery Monday night.

    Valerio, of Brooklyn, was slapped with a reckless endangerment charge, cops said.

    He was released without bail on Tuesday night, with prosecutors noting he remained at the scene, called 911 and willingly provided authorities with surveillance footage of the shooting.

    Sources said the liquor store owner has a concealed-carry permit for the firearm. Both Valerio and his public defense attorney declined to comment outside of the courthouse. He’s scheduled to appear in court next on July 29.

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    Valerio’s brother, who declined to give his name, told The Post Tuesday this is the first time an incident like this has happened at the store.

    “The police are still investigating. He’s OK,” he said.

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=00xeCR_0tEmzAFb00
    Pullutasi ended up shot in the stomach, and was listed in stable condition at Elmhurst Hospital Center. citizen.com

    “I am [worried]. It’s my brother…it’s family, you feel it…I don’t know what happened. You never know. Things happen all of a sudden and you don’t know.”

    Valerio’s 47-year-old Brooklyn neighbor, Carmen Navarro, told The Post she suspected the liquor store owner acted in self-defense.

    “Why should he be charged? It was self-defense. He was protecting his property,” said Navarro, who added that her neighbor “has a license for the gun.”

    She said that Valerio taught her son about gun safety and was adamant that it was strictly to protect the liquor store.

    “He was a good influence for my son. And he’s like, ‘It’s for protection. It’s licensed and it’s for the business only. You never shoot to kill anyone even if you’re walking in the street’,” Navarro said.

    The neighbor also decried the current state of the Big Apple.

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    “There’s no rules and regulations right now in New York City and this is what is going on because kids go out, do whatever they want and you, as a property owner, you can’t even defend yourself,” she said.

    Maya Garrett, a local customer of the liquor store, was shocked over the shooting. When she walked in on Tuesday she checked in with the owner’s brother to make sure he was okay.

    “They’re like the best store ever. They’re really nice and everything. I feel so bad,” said Garrett, 23.

    “They’re family-oriented and they really show that because they’re so nice to my family.

    My mom and dad love them. It’s just crazy to me,” she continued.

    Garrett’s mother knew that the store workers were armed to defend themselves, she said.

    Adatya Chadha, 26, who was pet-sitting for a pal in the area, said the shooting was “the news of the day in the neighborhood.”

    He didn’t hear any gunshots, but saw the chaotic aftermath.

    “It was just like a loud noise…I heard sirens…then when I came down there was all this police tape around this liquor store right here. It was crazy,” he told The Post from his stoop.

    “There’s a lot of families in Ridgewood, you don’t expect it,” he said. “Where are the cops to catch the people shooting people? They’re too busy trying to stop people from jumping subway turnstiles.”

    For the latest metro stories, top headlines, breaking news and more, visit nypost.com/metro/

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