Indian-origin businessman shot dead in South Carolina

With the nation still in shock from the killing of an Indian engineer Feb. 22, an Indian American businessman who was well-liked in his neighborhood was shot dead outside his home in Lancaster, South Carolina, on the night of Marvh 2.

A 43-year-old Indian-origin store owner in the US has been shot dead outside his home, just days after an Indian engineer was killed in Kansas in a hate crime shooting that had sent shockwaves across the country, reports PTI.

Harnish Patel, 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. He had locked up his nearby store less than 10 minutes before he was found dead, police said.

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 bar 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 hate 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 Mar. 3.

WSOCTV said that in Lancaster 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. A sign on the shop door read, “Store closed for few days because of family emergency. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

A tearful customer, Nicole Jones, told the station that when someone didn’t have money, Patel gave them food. “I would have no idea who would do this to him as good as he is to everybody,” she said. A store employee, Keira Baskin, said that he only wanted the best for his employees and his family.

An IANS report from New Delhi adds: The Indian Consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, has deputed an official to meet the family of Harnish Patel, it was learnt Mar. 4. “CGI Atlanta is in touch with the family. It is deputing a consular official to meet the family and offer condolences and any required assistance,” a source here said.

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