Arrest made in deadly liquor store robbery

May 22, 2008 8:14:21 PM PDT
A suspect has been arrested in the fatal shooting of the immigrant owner of a Staten Island liquor store during a brazen robbery. The suspect is identified as 40-year-old John Lanorith.

According to police, the suspect was taken to a Staten Island precinct for questioning around noon. Charges were announced later Thursday afternoon.

The victim, 67-year-old Elgudzha Koyenishvili, was shot twice in the torso during the holdup of Discount Wines and Liquors at 118 Lincoln Avenue at around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday night.

Koyenishvili was rushed to Staten Island University Hospital North, where he was pronounced dead.

Police say the alleged gunman was seen pacing outside the store before bursting in with a gun. He grabbed the cash register and opened fire on Koyenishvili.

Koyenishvili, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, owned the liquor store for the past several years. Neighbors said he was a well-liked, hard working man.

A witness spotted a blue pickup truck fleeing the scene of the slaying, and detectives tracked it to one of Lanorith's neighbors, who said he lent the car to Lanorith.

Additionally, a baseball bat was recovered at the scene, and it appears the victim was using it to defend himself when he was shot.