A beloved owner of a dairy drive-in convenience store in San Bernardino, was killed Friday night during an armed robbery, San Bernardino police said. According to Lt. Rich Lawhead, the 911 call came in shortly around 7:48 p.m. Friday evening at the Bossy Dairy.
Police arrived promptly at the scene and found the owner, Mitesh Patel, shot in the chest. Another employee was in the store at the time of the incident, but fortunately wasn't injured.According to the Sun, two armed gunmen walked into the store and demanded money from the owner. After handing money over to the suspects, 31-year-old Mitesh Patel was fatally shot and died instantly at the scene.
Samir Patel, who owned Bossey Drive-In Dairy with his brother for six years, was seen walking out of the store's bathroom when Mitesh Patel was shot point-blank in the chest. "He's like slipping down on the ground," Samir Patel recalled.
According to KABC-TV, Patel, who leaves behind a wife and a 3-year-old daughter, was known for helping out customers by giving credit to them when they were unable to pay for their own food.
"He was a great guy, man, he had a heart of gold," Fidel Bryan of San Bernardino said. "It's just sad, you know, he was a really good friend. He was a really good guy. He would help people out."
"They take care of our community, you know what I mean? I don't understand who could come over here and do something like this," Bishop Larry Jones with Crossover Outreach Church said.
On Saturday afternoon, San Bernardino residents held a memorial service to pay tribute to the man who enjoyed helping others in the impoverished community.
Elaine Fernandez, who lives near the store, said that Patel was a generous man who helped people out whenever they needed his assistance. "If you didn't have money, he would let you take the items anyway," Fernandez said. "I don't understand why someone would want to rob him."
Another resident, Cookie Smith, 47, said that she has been a regular shopper at the store ever since her family moved from the state of Louisiana to San Bernardino in the 1970s. She expressed her sympathy as well as her frustration over this senseless crime that shouldn't have happened in the first place.
"His life was more important than whatever money they got," she said. "It's a stupid crime. This man had a family. Many people are trying to change this community for the better. I think this type of stuff needs to stop."
Connie Mavraganis, who was deeply saddened to hear of Patel's death, said that he was a wonderful and kind person who loved giving back to the community. "He was top notch," she said. "He was a wonderful and caring person. [Mitesh] had good manners and a very good sense of humor."
Lawhead said that after the shooting took place, the suspects took off on foot. They apparently ran off in a northeast direction right through an alley. Lawhead also said that due to the fact that the robbers were wearing masks, witnesses at the crime scene weren't able to provide any detailed descriptions to police.
San Bernardino police said that one of the suspects was seen carrying a long gun with him, while the other suspect was armed with a handgun. "As of Saturday morning there were still no suspects," said Eileen Hards of the San Bernardino Police Department.
The incident is currently being investigated as a homicide. Anyone who has any information regarding the crime or the suspects are asked to call the San Bernardino Police Department Homicide Detail at 909 384-5615.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]