BLACKVILLE town of the American state of South Carolina is in shock after a “good-hearted” Gujarati convenience store owner was shot dead in a “robbery turned homicide” on Tuesday (8).
Reports said community members were “trying to cope” with the death of Ashwinbhai ‘Andy’ Patel, 60, who they said was “one of their own”.
Police teams, which rushed to the corner shop by the highway after a customer reported the shooting, found Patel dead due to gunshot wounds. Investigations were on to nab the assailants.
The incident reminded local people of the armed robbery at another convenience store in the state that left shop workers Kiran and Chirag Patel dead last November.
Community members said “Andy” was “more than a just a store owner to them”.
“Andy meant a lot to this community… he and his family,” Mozel Chisolm, a Blackville resident, told WRDW news channel.
“I’ve known him over 15 years. He never bothered anyone and would give you the shirt off his back. He was just an awesome person.”
Chisolm recalled that Patel “made an instant connection with everyone who walked through his doors”.
“Andy was a good-hearted person, and every time I would go in the store, he would always say ‘Where have you been, I haven’t seen you in a long time.’ I watched Andy’s kids grow up from kids to be young men,” he added.
Another shaken resident, Evette Joyner, told the news channel that Patel was “like family”.
“I’ve known Andy for 20 plus years since his family moved here,” he said.
Another member of the community identified as Joyner said the town “will never be the same”.
“Words can’t express how it’s going to change,” he said. “I mean it’s going to change the community in a different way. This town will not be the same again.”
Mourners left a cross at the site, saying they planned “a memorial or candlelight vigil” in Patel’s remembrance.