LANCASTER, S.C. -- A local community is in shock after the murder of a well-known convenience store owner.
It happened just before midnight on Thursday night in Lancaster.
Investigators say 43-year-old Harnish Patel had just returned home from work when it appears he was shot. The search for his killer continues.
The Speedee Mart he owned was closed on Friday, but people were laying down flowers and balloons outside the door.
The owner of a liquor store next door says he said goodbye to Patel on Thursday night before he was murdered. Then he heard the news overnight.
“Then after I didn’t sleep, [this] morning I was still awake and I wanted to cry the way I was getting the updates,” he said.
Just nine minutes after Patel left work, a 911 caller described screams and gunshots near his home. Deputies arrived to find his body just a few feet from the door of his home with apparent gunshot wounds.
Investigators believe the killer confronted him when he exited the vehicle.
“People don’t have no morals anymore,” says Anita Thompson, a frequent customer of Patel’s store. “Every time I go in the store he was very nice to me. It’s just sad what happened.”
“People when they find out, they just start crying,” says Rico Ingram, who owns Speedee Kutz Barbershop and Salon.
Ingram says Patel, who owns the property, was always supportive of his business.
“He helped me get this started, gave me the opportunity,” says Ingram.
The owner of the liquor store says he wishes Thursday night was not the final goodbye.
“I miss him all the time,” he said.
The Lancaster County Sheriff says they have not identified a motive at this point. If you have any information you’re asked to give them a call.
Copyright 2017 WCNC