The family of a 25-year-old man shot to death inside a Brooklyn deli last night are questioning the veracity of the store clerk who claims self-defense in the Monday evening shooting.
Edwin Candelario Jr. was found by police inside the Rose Family Grocery Store, located at 416 Glenmore Avenue in East New York unconscious and unresponsive with multiple gunshot wounds throughout his body. He was rushed to Brookdale University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
The store clerk is claiming Candelario threatened him with a knife so he shot him five times at point-blank range. Family members of Candelario, a store stockman at Golden Farms in Manhattan, say they are suspicious that he even had a knife, and say they believe the clerk and another store employee may have altered the crime scene.
As of Tuesday night, police were charging Ruiz Valentine, 34, with criminal possession of a firearm.
“I don’t believe the story that is being told – my nephew wasn’t that type of guy to pull a knife,” said Luz Sanchez, of Pennsylvania, and aunt of the dead man. “We are devastated by this – it’s like someone came and ripped the heart out of my chest.”
Sanchez said the reason that Candelario went to the store was to retrieve keys that he said he left at the store. He said her nephew called the store prior to going there and the clerk told him the keys were in the store.
“He and my brother went to the store to retrieve the keys he left there the night before, and Edwin went inside while brother stayed outside,” Sanchez said. “Then he heard the shots and he tried to go into the store where they were holding a gun to my nephew’s head after they shot him. He was shot five times, including one in the head – you don’t shoot five times without intending to kill.”
She said when Edwin Sr. forced his way into the store, the clerk held the handgun to the elder’s head and demanded he leave, yelling at him “get the hell out of my store, or I blow your brains out.” He was so distraught that he called Sanchez, she said, and she called the 75th Precinct on their behalf.
Sanchez said the family questions whether the clerk, who has not been identified by police as yet, had altered the crime scene. She believes her nephew was dragged behind the counter to make it look like self-defense. She also questioned whether Candelario actually had his own knife.
“We are not just going to let this sit and there being just another dead Latino – we are not going to let them get away with it because then they will know they can get away with it and it will happen again,” Sanchez said. “If we have to take this to Mayor Bill de Blasio, we will do that. They didn’t even check to see if he was drunk – something isn’t right when you shoot someone five times, including in the head.”
The family says the owner of the store has not yet allowed the police to view security footage and was in the process of getting a search warrant. A crime scene was being maintained as of noon Tuesday.
The clerk, who has only been identified by acquaintances as ‘Darrell’, is being held by police while the investigation continues. Police sources say the gun was not legal so the shooter will face charges non-the-less.
“His mother is devastated, brother devastated – he is his firstborn and he has two daughters – it was his only son,” Sanchez said. “They are going through hell.”