Mechanic charged after pulling gun on accused litterers

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An East Memphis mechanic is behind bars, accused of pulling a gun on four men after he says they littered outside the business and tried to steal air for their tires.

Humberto Velazquez, 46, is charged with five felonies, including four counts of aggravated assault.

But the shop owner insists his employee is a good man who was just trying to protect himself.

According to the arrest affidavit, the men stopped by Roberto's Tire Service next to the Marathon gas station on Shelby Drive Wednesday afternoon to fill their tires, but Velazquez thought they were trying to steal the air.

Velazquez also told police the customers threw a cup on the ground, and when he told them to pick it up, they refused.

"They dropped some garbage in my driveway, and you’re not supposed to do that, alright? And the dudes don’t want to pay a dollar for air. It’s a dollar," said shop owner Roberto Carrazel.

But the customers tell police they’re the ones who were ripped off.

They say Velazquez charged them $2 for the air instead of $1, and then demanded they pick up garbage they didn’t throw on the ground.

When they wouldn’t, investigators say he pointed a loaded 9mm handgun at them.

Other customers, though, say they don’t believe that’s actually what happened.

"Roberto is a good man. He’s a good man and his co-workers are, too," said truck driver Michael Sims. "So, there’s got to be more to the story than that."

Janice Brown, who works at the Marathon next door, agreed.

"I feel bad because they don’t bother nobody," she said. "And they’re out here making an honest living."

Carrazel tells WREG he didn’t know Velazquez had a gun inside the shop, but doesn’t blame him because the store has been robbed twice before.

Carrazel said he himself has also been threatened with a knife when a customer didn't want to pay for work he did on his car.

"I’ve had a lot of problems like this, you know? I don’t want to die for $50, I don’t want to die for $200," he said. "I love my life, I love everybody."

Carrazel said his surveillance cameras didn't capture what happened, but he stands by his employee and respects his right to protect himself.

Velazquez is charged with four counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and unlawful possession of a weapon.

He's being held on a $20,000 bond. No court date has been scheduled yet.



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