NYC liquor store owner faces 7 years in prison for shooting would-be robber who attacked him as group rallies to drop charges

A Queens liquor store owner has been sentenced to seven years in prison for shooting and killing a would-be thief who attacked him in a confrontation that was caught on camera, but some critics want the charges to be dropped.

Francisco Valerio, 53, and his brother Luis were inside Franja Wine & Liquor in Ridgewood around 7:45 p.m. Monday when they opened a bottle of alcohol, according to police and store surveillance footage. They are said to have caught two suspects with sticky hands who were trying to sneak them into their jackets.

In a video released by an industry group, Valerios and others grabbed Kevin Pourtaci and Edwin Paikiza, both 20, and threw them toward the door as other customers watched.

Surveillance camera footage shows one of the thieves trying to sneak a brown liquor bottle under his jacket. United Bodega of America
Valerio Francisco, 53 (right), leaves the courtroom after his arraignment on Tuesday. Wayne Carrington

But even after the would-be thieves were chased out the door, the battle didn’t end. Instead, the commotion spilled onto the Wyckoff Street sidewalk, where the brothers appeared to exchange insults with the suspects.

As the applicant was leaving the store, one of the brothers leaned through the door and appeared to say something that infuriated Pourtaci, according to the video.

Pratashi charged at the door and exchanged punches and kicks with the men, but just before he could do so, Valerio stepped outside and swung his right hand wildly.

That’s when the gun he was holding went off, according to a statement from the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

According to the video, Pultasi staggered after the shooting and came to rest against a car parked on the street.

Valerio appeared to walk over and try to help the injured man, who remained by the car until the video cut out.

All three have been charged, but Valerio’s two assault charges are the most serious to date and could carry up to seven years in prison.

“A brazen thief stole merchandise from a local liquor store,” Katz said in a statement.

“After the store was targeted by shoplifters, the stolen merchandise was recovered and two individuals were removed from the store,” she continued. “At that time, the store owner was assaulted by one of the males. Unfortunately, as alleged, this led to a reckless shooting by the store owner in broad daylight on a public road.

One of the brothers caught one of the thieves, and the other caught the other. United Bodega of America
Valerio tried to hit Pertasi with the gun, but he pulled the trigger, police said. United Bodega of America
After the shooting, Plutashi staggered around and rested against a car parked on the street. United Bodega of America

“All three defendants in this case will have to answer to the charges brought against them,” she added.

Still, not everyone was happy about Mr. Valerio’s indictment, including that Mr. Plutaci and his alleged accomplice, Edwin Paikiza, robbed Mr. Valerio’s store on Wyckoff Street “on a number of occasions.” That includes United Bodega of America, which the company said in a statement that it worked for.

“We are threatened, robbed, assaulted and robbed every day, and the bad guys get away with it,” said Radames Rodríguez, the group’s president. “They are released without bail and nothing happens to them. If they fight back, they are jailed and even prosecuted. This has to stop.”

“We once again urge Prosecutor Melinda Katz to drop the charges,” added UBA spokesperson Fernando Mateo. “Mr. Valerio is an honorable man in society and this should not change his life.”

UBA was scheduled to hold a press conference in front of the store on Wednesday.

Neighbors describe Valerio as a friendly merchant. dorian geiger
Kevin Pourtaci and Edwin Poakiza, both 20, allegedly assaulted an employee at Franja Wines and Liquors in Ridgewood around 7:45 p.m.

Valerio was charged Tuesday night with second- and third-degree assault, reckless endangerment and weapons possession.

The next court date is July 29th.

The two theft suspects each appear to be facing legal issues as a result of the incident, and both have been charged with petty theft for stealing alcohol, the DA’s office said.

Poakiza faces a possible one-year prison sentence and is due to appear in court on July 24.

Katz said Pratashi remains hospitalized with injuries from the gunshot wound, but criminal charges are pending.

Neighbors, meanwhile, expressed shock that their normally quiet neighborhood had been engulfed in street fighting.

Mr. Pultasi was ultimately shot in the abdomen and was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center in stable condition.

“I saw a guy on the ground who had been shot,” said Renee, 30, who lives nearby and works from home.

“He was on his left side, holding his stomach and screaming in Spanish,” she continued. “I couldn’t understand what he was saying…The police were looking for his wounds.”

Police tried to keep him awake, but Pratasi lost consciousness and his head began to turn back and forth, police said.

“He looked up and tried to stand up,” Renee said. “But they made him lie on the ground. It took another few minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

“I could tell they were kids,” she added. “They weren’t wearing masks, they weren’t wearing all black. It was a pretty bold thing to do at 7:45 p.m. But at the end of the day, it’s still scary. is.”

Renee said she has never seen anything like it happen in her neighborhood and believes this is a strange, one-off incident.

“We go there to buy a bottle of wine,” she said. “He makes me feel comfortable. I didn’t think it was weird going in there… They’re just two guys in their 50s. They keep to themselves and stay behind plexiglass. Masu.

Neighbors say the area is normally quiet. dorian geiger

“I feel sorry for the owners,” she continued. “He’s going to have to live with this for the rest of his life, and it’s terrible.”

On Wednesday morning, a man working at the store who identified himself as a member of Valerio’s family said the president was doing well despite the circumstances.

“He’s a good man,” said the man. “I have not spoken to him since the incident happened. This is a sensitive matter and a family matter…I cannot comment.”

Russell Dickerson, 56, a basketball coach and restaurateur who frequents the liquor store, was shocked to hear of Valerio’s arrest.

“It’s a shame because they are good people,” Dickerson said.

“I hope everything goes well for him. We talk all the time,” Dickerson continued. “It’s because of me that he got a Labrador! I have four and he saw me with the dogs and decided to bring my dog ​​to the store. He liked dogs so he got one.”

Dickerson said the shooting left her worried about the neighborhood she has lived in for seven years.

“There’s never been a problem,” he said. “Now that I’m home and watching the police tapes and watching the drama…I’m getting scared. I want to be in a safe place…but I have to move. I never thought something like this would happen. I never thought of that.”

Dickerson agreed with the Bodega Association’s statement that Katz should drop the lawsuit against Valerio.

“I love those guys,” he said, shaking his head again, “I can’t say a bad thing about them. They care about their customers and they run a good business.”

“Those charges should be dropped.”