The family of a 25-year-old man who was shot and killed inside an East New York deli on Monday night are questioning the store clerk’s claims that he shot the victim in self-defense.
Cops found Edwin Candelario, Jr. unconscious and unresponsive with multiple gunshot wounds throughout his body inside a Glenmore Avenue deli by New Jersey Avenue at 11:06 pm, police said. He was rushed to Brookdale University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
The shooting occurred one day after a 23-year-old man was stabbed to death in a deli just over one mile away.
The store’s clerk was taken into custody following the shooting, but the 34-year-old claims that he fired in self-defense — saying Candelario threatened him with a knife before he shot him five times at point-blank range.
However, Candelario’s relatives say the clerk’s explanation does not square up with what they witnessed leading up to the shooting and in its immediate aftermath.
Luz Sanchez, Candelario’s aunt, said that Candelario went to the Gelmore Avenue deli to retrieve keys that he said he left there. Before leaving, Candelario called the deli to ask the clerk if he saw the keys, and the clerk said he did, so Candelario and his father went to pick them up, Sanchez explained.
“He and my brother went to the store to retrieve the keys he left there the night before, and Edwin went inside while my 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 Candelario, Sr. forced his way into the store, the clerk held the handgun to the man’s head and demanded he leave, allegedly yelling at him, “get the hell out of my store, or I blow your brains out.” The man was so distraught that he called Sanchez, she said, and she called the 75th Precinct on their behalf.
Sanchez said the family wonders whether the clerk — who has not yet been identified by police — had altered the crime scene, and believes her nephew was dragged behind the counter to make it look like self-defense. She also questioned whether Candelario, who worked as a store stockman at a Manhattan supermarket, actually had his own knife.
“I don’t believe the story that is being told — my nephew wasn’t that type of guy to pull a knife,” Sanchez said. “We are devastated by this. It’s like someone came and ripped the heart out of my chest.”
The family says the owner of the store has not yet allowed the police to view security footage and authorities are in the process of obtaining a search warrant. Cops were maintaining the crime scene 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 nonetheless.
Sanchez said the family will not stop fighting for justice on Candelario’s behalf.
“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.”
This story first appeared on AMNY.com.