An Indian-American shopkeeper in Lancaster, South Carolina was shot dead late night March 2, in his frontyard. Police are still looking for the killer and the motive behind the crime.
Harnish Patel, owner of the Speedee Mart on Pageland Highway, was a much-loved man in the community, giving customers gas or food on credit if they could not pay.
He was shot dead at his house after he returned home from closing up shop late at night, in his own front yard. His wife and child were possibly sleeping in house when the crime was committed according to the local news channel, WSOCTV.
Lancaster County police joined community members in recalling Patel’s kindness and his involvement with the community. The police station was close to his store and officers frequented his store on an almost daily basis, news reports said.
Investigators said they think Patel went home from the store and was confronted by the killer as he stepped out of his car.
“I would have no idea who would do anything like this to him as good as he is to everybody,” Nicole Jones, a neighborhood friend told WSOCTV.
Customers and friends visited Patel’s home to offer condolences through the day March 3, on hearing of his death. Some said Patel was not bothered about the bottom line of his business. “If you didn’t have the money, he’d let people have food,” Jones is quoted saying in news reports.
One of Patel’s close friends was Dilipkumar Gajjar, who owns the ABC store next to the Speedee Mart. He told WBTV Patel came to America to give a better life to his family and he achieved that. Patel also supported Gajjar when the latter opened his own store, Gajjar said, adding, “I miss him.”
Sheriff Barry Faile said he did not think Patel’s Indian ethnicity was a reason for the attack. “I don’t have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated,” Heraldonline.com reported Faile saying.
Police are requesting anyone with any information to inform them.