NYC bodega owner who accidentally shot violent shoplifter arrested, faces seven years in prison

NEW YORK, NY- If there is any wonder why crime is out of control in cities like New York, look no further than an incident that occurred this week in the Ridgewood section of Queens last week. 

The New York Post reports that two men, owner Francisco Valerio, 53, and his brother Luis were working at the Franja Wines and Liquors store on May 20 at approximately 7:45 pm when two would-be thieves attempted to steal bottles of alcohol by slipping them into their jackets, police said. 

The brothers grabbed the two men–Kevin Pullutasi and Edwin Paiquiza, both 20, and shoved them toward the door as another customer watched, according to video surveillance released by a Bodega trade group. 

Shortly after pushing the two bandidos out the door, a verbal altercation took place between the store owners and the two. As the two thieves started walking away, one of the two brothers leaned out of the door and shouted something at the brothers, which didn’t sit well with Pullutasi, who charged the door and kicked at it. 

He then started to leave, and again one of the brothers appeared to shout at the two thieves. Whatever he said appeared to enrage Pullutasi, who threw down a backpack and again charged the door. He ran at the door where punches and kicks were traded, with Pullutasi appearing to take a fighting stance. 

The the Valerios then charged at Pullutasi, and as he swung at Pullutasi with what appeared to be a handgun in his hand, Francisco Valerio discharged what appeared to be an accidental shot at Pullutasi, 

Pulltasi stumbled around a bit after being shot, then leaned against a parked car. Francisco Valerio walked over to assist Pullutasi, and remained at his side until the video provided by the bodega trade group was cut out. 

All three men were charged relative to the incident, however Francisco Valerio is facing by far the most serious charges, which could see him sentenced to up to seven years in prison. 

“Brazen thieves stole merchandise from a neighborhood liquor shop,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. 

“After the store was targeted by these shoplifters, the stolen merchandise was recovered, and the two men were escorted out of the store,” Katz continued. “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,’ she said. 

“All three of the defendants in this incident will have to answer charges against them,” Katz added. 

That decision has not gone down well with the United Bodegas of America, which released a statement that noted the store had been robbed “numerous times” by Pullutasi and his accomplice Edwin Paiquiza. 

“We are threatened, robbed, assaulted, and looted every day, and the bad guys get away with it,” the group’s president Rakahmes Rodriguez said. “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.” 

“We are once again asking DA Melinda Katz to drop the charges,” said UBA spokesman Fernando Mateo. “Mr. Valerio is an honorable man in society, this should not change his life.” 

In a Wednesday evening press conference held by the UBA, Valerio’s wife, Jael, fought through tears to plead with Katz to “do the right thing.” 

She said her husband was the “perfect father for my kids,” and said her children were too torn up over the incident to attend the press conference. 

“My husband always tries to do the right thing. He’s a good citizen. A good husband, son, sibling, an extraordinary father and he doesn’t deserve this,” she continued. 

“It’s very hard. You would think that someone who is always doing the right thing by others, by his peers, by everybody. And then this small incident happens and he can lose his freedom,” she said. 

Fox News Digital reports that Valero 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. Katz’s office confirmed Valerio does have a concealed carry permit, and noted the gun was being carried concealed in his rear waistband. 

Meanwhile, Pullatasi was treated for his gunshot wound and released. He was charged with petit larceny, as was his accomplice Poaquiza. Both live in the borough of Brooklyn and prosecutors said they stole two bottles of liquor. 

UBA spokesman Mateo told Fox News Digital that New York’s soft-on-crime policies need to be changed. 

“Frequent flier thieves must be stopped, we have the right to defend ourselves, our businesses and our communities,” he said in a statement. “District attorneys must stop prosecuting victims and charging criminals when they commit crimes.” 

He added that business owners are continuously dealing with looting, shoplifting, assaults and robberies, along with other crimes. 

“Francisco Valerio is a licensed gun owner, has been married for 30 years, has two children, and is a Colombia 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. 

Valerio also received support from at least one of the neighbors in the area of the store. 

“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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