An Indian-origin businessman was shot dead outside his home in South Carolina, according to media reports.
Harnish Patel was shot dead near his house in Lancaseter, a little after 11:24 pm on Thursday, a media report said.
Patel’s death comes two days after US President Donald Trump condemned the killing of 32-year-old Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla at a Kansas bar.
Patel’s relatives in Gujarat have urged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to take up the matter and ensure justice for his family.
Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj informed that the Indian consulate was in touch with Patel’s family and that investigation into the matter is on.
I am pained to hear about the killing of Harnish Patel a US national of Indian origin in Lancaster, South Carolina. /1— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 5, 2017
Our Consul has reached Lancaster and met the family of Harnish Patel. The investigation of the case is in progress. /2— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 5, 2017
My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. /3— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 5, 2017
Officers Don’t Suspect the Killing to Be Racially Motivated
Barry Faile, County Sheriff I don’t have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated.
In the 22 February Kansas killing, Kuchibhotla was shot dead by a man screaming, “Get out of my country”.
Another Indian, Alok Madasani, who was with the victim at a bar, and an American, Ian Grillot, who tried to stop the shooting, were also shot and injured.
Adam Purinton, a former Navy SEAL, was arrested and charged with the murder. He had reportedly said that he had shot two Iranians after shooting the Indians. The hate crime was condemned by leaders in both the US and India.
In his State of the Union address to the joint session of the Congress on 28 February, Trump said:
Last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.
Anger Over Patel’s Killing
Local WSOC TV 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.
His store was close to the Sheriff's office and deputies often frequented the store. Faile said on TV that Patel was a "great family man" and a friend.
Patel Survived by Wife and Son
The station said that Patel was survived by his wife and child, who were at home when he was killed.
A shrine of sorts has been created outside Patel's Speed Mart, with mourners leaving flowers to pay tribute. A sign on the 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.
On Thursday night, a woman called the police and said that she heard screaming and gunshots. When the sheriff's deputies arrived, they found Patel dead, a few feet from his house, WBTV reported.
Police found two shell casings at the crime scene. A police dog could not pick up any scent to follow from there, WSOC TV reported.
(With inputs from IANS)