Ridgewood liquor store owner charged for shooting alleged shoplifter he was trying to pistol-whip: DA

The owner of a Ridgewood liquor store is looking at serious jail time for shooting an alleged shoplifter while he was trying to pistol-whip the crook during a physical altercation in front of his shop.
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A Ridgewood liquor store owner is facing up to seven years in prison for shooting an alleged shoplifter during a struggle in front of his shop on Monday evening.

Francisco Valerio, 53, of Eldert Street in East New York, Brooklyn, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Tuesday night on assault charges and other crimes for allegedly discharging his firearm when attempting to pistol-whip 20-year-old Kevin Pullatasi during an altercation in front of his Franja Wine and Liquors shop at 785 Wyckoff Ave. Pullutasi, of Summit Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and his codefendant Edwin Poaquiza, 20, of Van Buren Street in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, were also arrested and booked at the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood.

Poaquiza was separately arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Tuesday night on a charge of petit larceny. Pullutasi remains hospitalized for treatment of his gunshot wound and criminal charges against him are pending.

According to the charges and statements made in court, at approximately 7:40 p.m. on May 20, Valerio, his brother, and a store employee watched as Pullatasi took a bottle of Ciroc vodka from a shelf and placed it inside his jacket. Luis Valerio then confronted Pullatsi, at which point the store owner saw Poaquiza take a brown liquor bottle from a store shelf and place it inside his jacket. The Valerio brothers ordered the two alleged shoplifters to return the bottles of liquor while inside the store. Poaquiza and Pullatasi indicated that they wanted to purchase the booze.

The Valerios asked the two men to leave and a verbal argument started. They then demanded that the men leave and pushed them out of the store.

The Valerios remained in the doorway of the liquor store and Poaquiza and Pullatasi went outside the store and were on the sidewalk.

Once outside the store, Poaquiza and Pullatasi engaged in a heated verbal argument with the Valerios. On the sidewalk, Poaquiza and Pullatasi turned and walked away from the owner and the employee, who continued to verbally engage Pullatasi, who ran back to the doorway where the employee and the owner stood.

As Pullatasi got to the door frame, one of the two men kicked Pullatasi who responded by kicking and punching both men and tried to slam the door on their hands.

It was at this point, that Francisco Valerio — who has a concealed carry permit — took out his firearm, which had been concealed in his rear waistband.

Valerio then shot Pullatasi while attempting to strike him with the handgun. Pullatasi was struck once in the abdomen. EMS responded to the scene and rushed Pullatasi to Elmhurst Hospital, where he is being treated for internal bleeding as a result of the gunshot wound.

Police from the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood recovered a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol from Francisco Valerio. Poaquiza ran from the store but was arrested moments later around the block at Ridgewood Place and Putnam Avenue.

Back at the store, Valerio was taken into custody.

“Two crimes, inside and outside a liquor store, resulted in three people being charged in this case,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “As alleged, brazen thieves stole merchandise from a neighborhood liquor shop. After the store was targeted by these shoplifters, the stolen merchandise was recovered and the two men were escorted out of the store. At this 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.”

Francisco Valerio was arraigned before Queens Criminal Court Judge Anthony Battisti on charges of assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. He was ordered to return to court on July 29. If convicted of the top count, Valerio faces up to seven years in prison.

Poaquiza was arraigned separately before Judge Battisti who ordered him to return to court on July 24. If convicted, Poaquiza faces up to 364 days in prison. Pullatasi will be arraigned at a later date.

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