Shani Patel, an Indian American student at New Jersey-based Rutgers University was killed on April 10 in a shooting at an off-campus apartment near the university’s Newark campus. Shani Patel, 21, was fatally shot and his 23-year-old roommate was undergoing surgery and listed in critical condition at a hospital, said Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray in an Associated Press report.
A substantial amount of drugs and money were found at the scene of the fatal shooting, and authorities believe the shooting may have occurred during a robbery, according to nj.com.
The university says the shooting isn’t a random act and there are no threats to the school community, which serves about 12,000 students at the downtown campus. “I write with the sad news that last night we lost one of our students,” Rutgers chancellor Nancy Cantor wrote in an email to students. “There is an active, ongoing investigation by the Newark Police Department of a crime that took place at a private residence located off campus.”
Cantor went on to write, “While law enforcement is still investigating and we understand that it was not a random act that led to Shani’s death, it is a shock to lose a member of our community under any circumstances. Our deepest condolences go out to Shani’s family and to all who knew him as a student, colleague or friend.”
An Ashbury Park Press report said that, at the time of his death, Patel was on probation for possessing more than 50 grams of marijuana with the intent to distribute it, stemming from an arrest on April 15, 2013, in Toms River, when Patel was 18 years old, according to court records.
“It’s really sad to see that this has happened to him, very sad,” said Patel’s lawyer, Bradley D. Billhimer, in the AP report. “He was an economics major and was interested in becoming an entrepreneur. He was always talking about having his own business. He was a very smart young man. He was a nice kid.”
As per reports, Shani Patel was placed on probation following a 2013 arrest in Toms River for possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana with intent to distribute, the documents indicate. Bradley Billhimer, the attorney who represented Patel in the criminal case that resulted from the 2013 arrest, remembered him as a “bright young man.”
No suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made, Murray said. An award of up to $10,000 was being offered for information that leads to arrest and conviction. Two assailants, both believed to be in their early to mid-20s, fled the scene.