Watch CBS News

Video shows Queens liquor store shooting. Here's why some say accused owner acted in self-defense.

Queens liquor store owner facing charges in shooting of man he says tried to steal
Queens liquor store owner facing charges in shooting of man he says tried to steal 02:22

NEW YORK -- A liquor store owner in Queens is facing felony charges, accused of shooting a man he says was trying to rob his store.

The charges prompted outrage from some who say he was not only acting in self-defense, but that the shooting was an accident.

Surveillance video shows two men police identified as Edwin Poaquiza, seen in red, and Kevin Pullatasi, wearing black, walk into Francisco Valerio's store on Wyckoff Avenue. Valerio then confronts Pullatasi off camera, accusing him of stealing. All that happens while Poaquiza stashes a brown bottle in his jacket, which a customer tells him to put back.

The men are kicked out, but the fight continues outside. They exchange words before Pullatasi rushes the door, kicking and with fists up, and that's when Valerio pistol whips Pullatasi. However, the gun fired and Pullutasi suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen.

Valerio told a detective it was an accident.

In a statement, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said, in part, "Two crimes resulted in three people being charged. 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."

Friends and family of Valerio come to his defense

"It's all based through the eyes of the person who was involved. Only Frank knows the circumstances that he was facing," family friend Johnny Nunez said. "We have one crime, one crime. They were stealing. Frank did not commit a crime."

A felony conviction would mean Valerio would lose his liquor store. His wife of 30 years called that outcome unthinkable.

"These few days have been very, very hard. You would think somebody that is always doing the right thing, by others, by his peers, by everybody, and then this small incident happen and he can lose his freedom over that? I don't know what to say," Jael Valerio said.

Francisco Valerio's family said he has a conceal-carry permit. No bail was set and he was not at Wednesday evening's press conference. He's due back in court later this month.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.