NEW YORK: 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.”