South Carolina (United States): Days after the killing of an Indian engineer in an apparent hate crime, an Indian-origin businessman was shot dead outside his home in Lancaster, South Carolina, on Thursday night.
Harnish Patel (43), the owner of a convenience store in Lancaster County, South Carolina, was found dead of gunshot wounds in the front yard of his home on Thursday, coroner and police officials said.
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 reported.
Patel's death comes two days after President Donald Trump had said the nation condemned as "hate and evil" the killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was shot dead in a pub the previous Wednesday in Olathe, Kansas, by a white man who screamed, "Get out of my country".
Local officials in Lancaster said they do not believe that Patel's killing was a bias crime and that investigations are continuing, according to The Herald.
"I don't have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated," County Sheriff Barry Faile said on Friday.
Patel's store was near the sheriff's office and deputies often frequented the store.
Faile said on TV that Patel was a "great family man" and a friend.
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,” Mr. 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,” Mr. Sadler said.
For a better life
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.
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.”
The shooting last month had sent shockwaves across the Indian-American community with people expressing concerns over their safety in an enviornment of xenophobic and racist rhetoric in the country.