As the co-owner of Valentina's Portuguese Market walked into the frozen-goods section to grab a drink Wednesday night, he heard, "Oh my God" from the register. Max, 25, saw a robber pointing a gun at the other co-owner of Valentina's, located at 886 Central St. Max, who declined give his last name out of fear of retaliation, immediately stepped back around Portuguese imported cheese and cereals, pulled out the gun he's licensed to carry, cocked his gun and waited for the thief. "I fired. Boom. Boom," recalled Max Thursday morning. "I thought he was dead right there, but he got up. I fired two more. Boom. Boom. He was ducking, though. I would have got him if he was standing up." Again, the suspect was lying on the floor. Then he popped up quickly and ran out the door of the market in the city's Back Central neighborhood. "He really got lucky," Max said of the robber not getting seriously injured or killed Wednesday night. "Sometimes people really get real lucky. He got (expletive) lucky." The suspect, who did not shoot back, is still at large on Thursday, according to police. He is described as a heavy-set white male, wearing a winter jacket with a logo on the left breast and lettering on the rear hem, blue jeans and black sneakers. He entered the market Wednesday, shortly before 7 p.m. Max said his gun was pointed right at the thief, but Max flinched. "At the same time, you're scared because you don't wanna get shot yourself," Max said. "I was just nervous as (expletive)," he added. "I didn't want to get shot and die over a (expletive) small amount of money. That's not worth your life." The Portuguese market sells imported cheese, octopus, codfish, sausage, coffee and more. People travel from all over to buy food there because it's hard to find, according to Max. The co-owner said he didn't want to wait and find out if the thief would use his weapon. Max, who calls himself a gun activist, said it's his legal right to fire his gun when a thief walks around the store pointing a gun. "I wouldn't have shot if anyone (else) was in here," Max added. In the summer of 2015, the owner of The 99 Store on Liberty Street fired gunshots at men who jumped over his counter, covered his face and mouth, and took more than $10,000. No one was reported hurt. One of his bullets struck an apartment building at 171 Liberty St. Late in 2014, there was a similar incident at Pacific Liquors on Central Street in Lowell. The store owner chased an armed robber down Linden Street -- a block away from his store -- and fired two "warning shots" into the ground. In the wake of this, his license to carry was suspended by Police Superintendent William Taylor. The reason for the suspension: firing a weapon in a residential area. Fast forward to today, and Taylor said Wednesday's incident is still under investigation. They're actively looking for the suspect, he said. "It certainly appears the clerk was defending himself and other people working in the store," Taylor said.
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