An Indian-origin woman working at a gas station died after being shot in the face in an attempted armed robbery in South Carolina, the third such incident against Indians in the US within a month.
Mradulaben Patel from Gujarat, 59, was the co-owner of a store at a BP gas station in Powdersville. An unidentified man is believed to have shot Patel in the face on Thursday night. Police has asked for help to identify the assailant.
Patel, who underwent surgery on Friday, later succumbed to her injuries at the hospital. Police said surveillance video footage shows a man walking into the store and buying a pack of cigars. Investigators said they believe the man shot Patel during an attempted robbery. They said after the shooting, a customer Michael Wheat found Patel lying on the floor and called 911. “I saw her lying there on the floor, bleeding pretty bad,” said Wheat, adding that Patel had blood all over her head and on the floor.
Wheat said he left the store and got in his truck from where he called emergency assistance number 911. He said he ran back into the store without knowing whether or not the shooter had already left the scene of the incident. “She was kinda moaning as she was breathing,” said Wheat.
Patel holds American and British citizenship. Officials of the Indian Consulate in Atlanta have spoken to her husband. Her family has not sought any assistance from the Indian mission, they added.
Customers of the shop remembered Patel as a friendly woman. “She always asked how everybody was, their day was, (and)
she asked how my daughter was every day that I came in here,” said Shalynn Zarczynski, a frequent customer of Patel’s shop.
Two Indians – Sanjay Patel (39) and Rajesh Madala (35)- were killed during apparent robbery attempts in two separate incidents at gas stations in the US last month, sending shock waves among the local population.