Police investigating motive behind the murder.
(This post has been updated.)
In the third such incident in the span of 19 months, and the second in a matter of two weeks, another Indian American has been shot dead in the United States.
Harnish Patel, a 43-year-old store owner from 262 Craig Manor Road, Lancaster, South Carolina, was found dead outside his house Thursday late-night, according to police.
Patel owned a convenience store, Speedee Mart, at 1416 Pageland Highway. He had closed his story for the day around 11:24 p.m., and left for home, alocal newspaper, The Herald, reported.
â€œInvestigators believe he drove from the store directly home, where he was confronted by his killer when he got out of the vehicle,â€ theÂ police statement said.
Sheriff Barry Faile was quoted by The Herald saying, â€œI donâ€™t have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated.â€
According to police, Patel left for his house in a minivan late in the night after closing the store. His house was roughly 10 minutes away from the store. But reports indicate that theÂ killer was waiting outside the house and moments after reaching the courtyard he was shot.
Patel was found in the yard a few minutes before midnight, according to a statement from the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office.
According to the County police, they received a 911 call at 11:33 pm from people living nearby Patelâ€™s house who said they heard screaming and gunshots.
When reporters asked whether the murder was racially motivated, Sheriff Barry Faile ruled out such an angle and said prima facia evidence doesnâ€™t suggest that his Indian ethnicity has instigated the murder.
“I don’t have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated,” Faile said.
Friends and customers of Patelâ€™s store are shocked by the news about his murder. They remember him as a â€œgoodâ€ guy who is worried about the bottom line of his business.
One of his friends was quoted saying that he allowed people to eat at the store even if they didnâ€™t have the money to pay.
Patelâ€™s death comes as a double shock to the Indian American community, which was already distressed by the killing of an Indian engineer two weeks ago in Kansas.
Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed by 51-year-old Navy veteran in Olathe, Kansas after he and his friend were racially abused and called â€œterroristsâ€. The incident had left deep scars in the community with different associations asking its members to keep a low profile and not to talk native languages in public.
President Trump had condemned the killing of Kuchibhotla on Tuesday while addressing the congress for the first time.
Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last weekâ€™s shooting in the 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,â€ Trump said.
In August 2015, an elderly Indian American couple was gunned down in Ridgeland, S.C., leading to the arrest of a 20-year-old suspect.
PoliceÂ said they havenâ€™t received any clue either in the form of surveillance video or eyewitness account on the suspect till Friday afternoon.
Police have asked the help of the public to provide details, if they have any, about what happened in between the 10-minute drive of Patel from his store to his house that could assist in identifying the murderer.