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Elmwood Park Smoke Shop Employee Fights Off Flare Gunman

Tracks Smoke Shop
Tracks Smoke Shop Photo Credit: GoogleMaps

ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. -- An Elmwood Park smoke shop worker fought with a robber who threatened to shoot him in the face with a flare gun, giving police enough time to arrive and subdue the bandit, authorities said Friday.

Gabriel Velez, 33, of Fort Lee pulled the gun from his pocket and loaded it with a live flare after entering Tracks Smoke Shop on Midland Avenue and announcing a robbery around 7 p.m. Thursday, Police Chief Michael Foligno told Daily Voice.

He then told one of the employees he was going to shoot him in the face, igniting a struggle, Foligno said.

Velez broke free and ran right into responding police officers, the chief said.

He struggled, but they got him into custody without anyone being injured, Foligno said.

Velez was charged with robbery, resisting arrest and weapons offenses.

He remained held in the Bergen County Jail early Friday pending a bail hearing.

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