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Published Feb. 15, 2008

Ali Alzarkani and his friend were catching up Sunday night, with the TV on low and the front door open. Ali Jr., Alzarkani's 6-year-old son, was playing in the doorway.

The boy had an empty water bottle, according to sheriff's reports, which he was tossing around on the entryway of the Ardsley Road apartment.

The quiet was suddenly broken with screaming.

"Pick it up! Pick it up!" Alzarkani said he heard a man shout.

His friend, Abdulmohsin Alsultani, rushed to investigate.Outside, he met a neighbor on a rant. Then, Alzarkani stepped in to defend his son.

That's when the man, identified in sheriff's reports as 53-year-old Pablo Velez, pulled a gun from his waistband.

He had already threatened the boy, the report says, telling him to stop throwing the bottle or he would shoot.

No one was hurt. Velez stashed the gun, which turned out to be an airgun, in an adjacent hotel where he works. That's where deputies found it before arresting him on two charges of aggravated assault.

He remained in the county jail Monday evening, in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Alzarkani said his son is okay, though he was shaken up by the incident. "It's the first time he's seen a gun ... in his face."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at (727) 869-6245.