Elmwood Park family fights back against man who allegedly tried to rob shop with flare gun

A Bergen County family says they are shaken up after they were held captive inside their smoke and tobacco shop by a man with a flare gun.

The incident happened Thursday evening at the Tracks Smoke and Tobacco Shop in Elmwood Park.

The Vega family says that that they have only owned the shop for three months. Lisa Vega says that a man came into the shop around 6:45 p.m. and started to act strangely.

"He kept saying, 'I could rob you guys but that would not be the right thing to do,'" she says.

Lisa says that the man, later identified as Gabriel Velez, announced that he was carrying a gun. The family says they tried to convince him to leave the store.

"He said, 'You know I could shoot you in the face,' and he pulls out a gun and he puts it on the counter. It's a flare gun," Lisa says.

Surveillance video shows that Velez moves close enough so that Lisa's son Jonathan can grab the flare gun.

"Something in me, I don't know what it was, I just grabbed it I just went for it," says Jonathan Vega.

"Once he grabbed the flare gun I ran around and jumped on his back," says daughter Jazmin Vega.

The siblings say they were trying to push Velez out of the store.

Officials described Velez as "ex-military." He is facing robbery and weapons charges, but has already been released from custody until his court date. It is a fact that concerns the Vegas. 

Jonathan Vega suffered some minor cuts and scrapes, but is otherwise OK. No one else was hurt.

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