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Man trying to hold up store killed by owner

By Antigone Barton, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Originally published here on Tuesday, May 22, 2001

LAKE WORTH -- An armed robber who held up a store across the street from the city police station Monday made his fatal mistake when he turned his gun from the shop owner and toward a woman and baby who came in the door, according to investigators.

That is when the store's owner, Noe Brewster, grabbed his own gun and shot Orlando Guadalupe once in the face, killing him, police said.

The woman Guadalupe had threatened was Brewster's daughter-in-law and the baby his grandson, said relatives who gathered around the 1106 Lucerne Ave. beeper business after the shooting.

No one else was hurt, police said, but Brewster, 47, later was taken to an area hospital complaining of chest pains. Police late Monday identified the robber as Guadalupe, 35, of 808-3 Tiffany Drive W. in West Palm Beach.

Lake Worth police Sgt. Ed Riddle said the shooting appeared to be self-defense and was "eerily similar" to another daylight holdup that ended in a robber's death slightly more than a week before. On May 11, jeweler Garry Bernardo shot to death one of two men who held him up in his suburban Lake Worth pawnshop. Brewster, in fact, knows Bernardo, family members said.

The daylight robbery of the store that faces the police station also was "brazen," Riddle said

"I guess he couldn't read the sign that says 'police,' " Riddle said.

The robber had apparently come to the store, Beeper Stop, earlier to "case" it, Riddle said.

The man returned about 5 p.m. saying he wanted to get a beeper. Brewster turned to get paperwork, he told police, and turned back to face a semiautomatic handgun. He told police he had the chance to reach for his weapon when the man pointed his gun at the woman and baby, threatening to kill them if he didn't get money.

Several doors down, Jim Curran of All Type Air Conditioning didn't hear the gunshot but heard screaming and ran outside to see a woman running from the store, carrying a baby and calling for help.

Police interviewed Brewster and his daughter-in-law at the police station, where Noe Brewster Jr. joined his wife and father.

"I believe he saved their lives and his own," Noe Brewster Jr. said later.

Brewster has owned the store for about a year since retiring from the housing authority, his sister Emily Brewster Leal said. He has had no serious problems and family members often visit, she said.

On Monday evening, the lights were still on in the empty store. A playpen holding a child's toy and a bottle stood by the window, a few yards from a pool of blood.

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