A Indian-origin businessman has been shot dead outside his home in South Carolina, US, just days after an Indian engineer was killed in Kansas in a hate crime shooting, that sent shock waves across the country.
Harnish Patel, 43, the owner of a convenience store in Lancaster County, was found dead of gunshot wounds in the front yard of his home on Thursday. Patel had closed his shop at 11.24 pm on Thursday and drove in his silver minivan to his home, 6 km from the store, where the authorites believe he was confronted by his killer.
Patel’s death comes two days after President Donald Trump condemned the killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, last Wednesday, as ‘hate and evil’. Local officials in Lancaster, however, did not believe that Patel's killing was a bias crime. "I don't have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated," said County Sheriff Barry Faile on Friday.
Kuchibhotla, an Indian-American, was shot dead on February 22 by a man who screamed "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 white and a former Navy SEAL was arrested and charged with murder. He had reportedly said that he had shot two Iranians after shooting the Indians. The hate crime was widely condemned by leaders in both the US and India.
In his State of the Union address to the joint session of the Congress on February 28, 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."
Reports say that 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. Patel was survived by his wife and child in elementary school, who were at home when he was killed.
People had created an impromptu shrine outside Patel's Speed Mart store by leaving balloons and flowers in his memory, says reports. A sign on door read, "Store closed for few days because of family emergency. Sorry for the inconvenience."
While the police found two shell casings at the crime scene, the police dog could not pick up any scent to follow from there.