Indian-origin businessman shot dead outside his US home in S Carolina
A 43-year-old Indian-origin store owner in South Carolina, US, was shot dead outside his home, just days after an Indian engineer was killed in Kansas in a hate crime shooting that had sent shock waves across the country. But the county sheriff told the Indian mission that this “may not be a hate crime,” but local authorities are investigating the case.
“The County Sheriff has pointed out that this may not be a hate crime. Local authorities r investigating. We will remain in touch with them (sic),” sources said.
Indian consulate in Atlanta is in touch with the family. The mission is deputing a consular official to meet the family and offer condolences and any required assistance.
The Indian mission is also in touch with the local community organisation of expat Indians, including those from Gujarat.
Harnish Patel, 43, the owner of a convenience store in Lancaster County, South Carolina, was found dead with gunshot wounds in the front yard of his home on Thursday, coroner and police officials said.
Patel’s death comes close on the heels of the shooting in Kansas of a 32-year-old Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed when 51-year-old US Navy veteran Adam Purinton opened fire at him and his friend Alok Madasani at a bar before yelling “get out of my country”.
US President Donald Trump had condemned the Kansas shooting. He had said America stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.
Patel closed his store and drove in his silver minivan to his nearby home where authorities believe he was confronted by his killer. The store is about 6 km from his house, The Herald, an online portal, reported.
He had locked up his nearby store less than 10 minutes before he was found dead, police said.
Patel was found in the yard a few minutes before midnight, according to a statement from the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office.
Lancaster County police received calls at 11:33 pm after people called 911 to say that they heard screaming and gunshots.
Sheriff Barry Faile said the Indian ethnicity of Patel does not appear to be a factor in the crime.
“I don’t have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated,” Faile said.
Local WSOCTV said that there was a lot of anger over the killing of Patel, who was considered an important member of the community and a kind person who treated his customers as friends and helped law enforcement.
Friends and customers were in shock and were visiting Patel’s home to offer condolences to his family.
“Who would do anything like this to him, as good as he is to everybody,” Nicole Jones, a frequent customer at Patel’s store, told WBTV.
Jones and other friends said Patel was not always worried about the bottom line of his business.
“If you didn’t have the money, he’d let people have food,” Jones said.
Mario Sadler, another customer and friend, said Patel had offered him jobs before, and did anything he could to help out in tough times.
“He’s watched my kids grow up, which is why it’s painful. From day one he’s been amazing, just awesome, and I just don’t understand the sense behind it,” Sadler said.
Dilipkumar Gajjar, a close friend of Patel and the owner the ABC store next to the Speedee Mart, said Patel came over to this country to better his family’s life, and did that.