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Police have arrested a frequent customer of the Lucky Deli over the weekend who they allege is the man who pulled the trigger in last week’s shooting of a clerk at the Laurelton store.
Shawn Forde, 29, of 229th Street in Springfield Gardens, was arrested Sunday and arraigned later in the night on second-degree murder and robbery charges in the murder of Juan Torres, 54, the Queens district attorney said.
Torres was working with his brother Felix at the deli, on Merrick Boulevard Oct. 23 when Forde allegedly robbed the store armed with a gun, according to DA Richard Brown. Juan Torres came to his brother’s aid when Forde pressed Felix Torres’ head to a counter and demanded money, then shot Juan in the head before fleeing with cash, Brown said.
“The victim’s life was cut short the moment that the defendant decided to pull the trigger — a decision that has had a devastating impact on the victim’s family and could lead to the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison,” he said in a statement.
Police had identified Forde as their suspect last Thursday and informed the Torres family about their investigation at a meeting in Laurelton. Felix Torres’ wife, Francis, broke down into tears as she gazed at a mugshot of the suspect.
Her daughter Brenda, 23, said the identity of the suspect has come as a shock to her because she knows him from the community.
“When I saw the photo, I knew he was a familiar face,” she said. “He’s a regular customer.”
Felix Torres picked Forde out of a lineup following his arrest, according to police. The Torreses lost another brother to an armed robbery when he was working at a Ridgewood deli more than 10 years ago.
Inspector Paul H. Piekarski, the commanding officer of the 105th Precinct, said Forde had a criminal record and before his arrest was wanted on an outstanding warrant. He told the family that their relative’s slaying was the highest priority for detectives at the station.
If convicted of the charges, Forde faces up to 25 years to life in prison, according to Brown. City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton), who has been working with the family and other deli owners in southeast Queens since the shooting, urged the DA to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.
“I am calling on the justice system to give the maximum sentence to ensure Mr. Forde never sees the light of day again,” he said in a statement.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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