Cops hunt for suspect in Queens deli murder

October 25, 2010 7:53:21 AM PDT
The NYPD is looking for the person who shot and killed a clerk at a deli in Queens over the weekend.Police released a sketch and a description of the suspect. The man is believed to be in his early to mid 40s, 6-foot to 6-foot-2 and weighing about 200 pounds.

He is wanted for killing 54-year-old Juan Torres while robbing the Lucky Grocery & Deli in Laurelton. The location is the same scene where a Torres family friend who worked at the deli was gunned down in 2002. Torres' older brother, Jesus, was also murdered during a deli robbery in Brooklyn a decade ago.

Torres and his younger brother Felix were closing up around 10 p.m. Saturday when the suspect walked in, demanding money.

The family has put up a makeshift memorial.

The deli was the scene of another murder just a few years ago, in which the deli owner at the time was shot and killed.

Friends say Juan Torres would never bother anyone.

"They're really nice people, they'll help anyone in the neighborhood, they didn't have to rob him," area resident Lena Jemmott said.

Police say the suspect burst in just before closing time Saturday night, shooting Torres in the head and running away.

Torres was pronounced dead on the scene.

Juan's wife Jacqueline was inconsolable after finding out about the shooting.

The family, including three sons all in their 20s, are now looking for answers as to who killed their father.

"He just grabbed him and threw him on the counter and was pointing the gun at his head," Torres' son Xavier said. "My uncle was grabbing money from register and giving it to the guy. He was like, 'Please don't kill me. I got family.' So my father saw it, was walking towards him, the guy looked back and shot him."

For residents of the Springfield Gardens community, it's just one example of a disturbing trend. It's been a quiet block since the early 80s, but the block association president says the violence is rising again.

"I believe it has to do with the economics," Felicia Bams said. "With the economy so bad, I believe people are suffering and people are just doing bad things."