Harnish Patel closed his store and drove to his nearby home where authorities believe he was confronted by his killer. Image courtesy: WSOCTV.com. Photograph: (Others)
Harnish Patel had closed his shop at night, and within ten minutes was fatally shot outside his house
A 43-year-old Indian-origin store owner, Harnish Patel, was shot dead outside his home on Thursday night in the US.
The incident took place after Harnish Patel closed his store and left for his home, 6 kilometres away in his minivan at 11:24 pm on Thursday, local news channel WSOC-TV reported. Investigators believe he was confronted by his killer when he got out of the vehicle.
He had locked up his nearby store less than 10 minutes before he was found dead, police said.
Lancaster County police received calls at 11:33 pm after people called 911 to say that they heard screaming and gunshots on Craig Manor Road where the victim's house is situated, PTI reported.
Sheriff Barry Faile said the Indian ethnicity of Patel does not immediately appear to be a factor in the crime. "I don't have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated," the Sheriff said.
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.
Harnish Patel's death comes after 32-year-old Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead in Kansas in an apparent incident of hate crime. A 51-year-old US Navy veteran Adam Purinton opened fire at Srinivas Kuchibhotla and his friend Alok Madasani at a bar before yelling "get out of my country".
The shooting last month sent shockwaves across the Indian-American community with people expressing concerns over their safety in an enviornment of xenophobia and racist rhetoric in the country.
(WION with inputs from PTI)