Suspect arraigned in murder of Clifton liquor store employee

Soltis was arraigned on charges of murder, weapon possession and armed robbery.

Soltis was arraigned on charges of murder, weapon possession and armed robbery. (10/22/15)

CLIFTON - The family of the 21-year-old shot and killed during a Clifton liquor store robbery says it wants justice.

Investigators say that Leandro Mendoza, known as Leo, and another employee were closing up the Lexington Liquors shop on Lexington Avenue on Oct. 16 when they were approached by a group of men who opened fire on them. Mendoza was fatally wounded while the other employee sustained minor injuries.

Three teens were arrested in connection with the case: 18-year-old Owen Soltis and two 17-year-olds whose names have not been released due to their age.

Soltis was arraigned on charges of murder, weapon possession and armed robbery. Prosecutors described him as the "lookout" during the robbery.

Mendoza's family says he didn't know the suspects. They describe him as a hard worker who stayed out of trouble and was always smiling.

"My mother raised an angel, and Owen's mother raised an animal. And I blame her for not teaching her son the value of life," says Mendoza's sister, Viviana Borja.

The judge set Soltis' bail at $1 million cash, but the defense plans to make a motion to have that reduced.

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