Patel was shot in the dead during a robbery attempt.
By Raif Karerat
WASHINGTON, DC: A Georgia man has been arrested and is facing impending murder charges following the death of an Indian-origin store clerk who was shot in the head during an attempted robbery of a South Carolina BP on April 30.
Mradulaben Patel, 59, died on May 2, but until Thursday authorities were unable to locate a suspect.
Justin Jamal Warner, 25, was pinpointed by Anderson County police after a concerned citizen recognized Warner in surveillance footage aired by the media and called a tip in to the Crime Stopper network on May 4.
Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper informed reporters at a press conference held last week that Warren had provided his birth date to Patel for verification when buying cigarettes, was adorned in distinctive tattoos that were visible in the video footage. Once police were tipped to his possible identity, the pieces fell right into place.
Per local NBC affiliate WYFF:
Skipper said Warner pulled a handgun and pointed it at Patel and demanded money from the register. He said Patel put up her hand to push the gun away, and Warner fired, hitting her in the head. Skipper said Patel fell forward, and when she did, it closed the register, making it impossible for Warner to take any money. He said Warner left the BP empty-handed.
Skipper informed the assembled press corps that he believed the BP was chosen because of its easy access to Interstate 85 in Piedmont, which it is located just off.
Patel’s husband, Pravinchandra Patel and their daughter, were present at the news conference, according to WYFF, where he thanked investigators and the local community for their support during a horribly trying time.
While multiple warrants have been issued charging Warner with murder and the use of a weapon in a crime, he will not be officially charged until he is extradited to South Carolina.
Warner has a minor criminal record, including drug offenses and shoplifting but no violent convictions, said Anderson County Sheriffâ€™s Office Sgt. Matt Voigt, who signed the warrants. Warner is being held at the Clayton County Detention Center in Jonesboro, Georgia, and has multiple addresses in various Atlanta suburbs.
“[We have] a little bit of anger for what the guy done to us,” Patel said. “I don’t [get] why he done it, but we are so angry because you know we have to wait … to get the justice and we’re going through a hard time right now.” [sic]
He informed reporters that he and his wife moved from London, and they bought the gas station in November 2012. He also iterated that he hopes Warner is jailed for life.
â€œWe donâ€™t want people like this in the streets,â€ he said, according to the Independent Mail. “We worked at that gas station all the time. We knew everyone in 10, 15 miles. It is so sad.”
Skipper subsequently told the Patels that the Sheriff’s Office would do everything in their power to ensure Warner spends the rest of his life behind bars and “never sees the light of day.”