BLACKVILLE, S.C. (WJBF) – An early, Tuesday morning shooting leaving one man dead in Blackville and police are hunting for the suspect while many people remember the victim dearly.
Shortly before 7:00 a.m., first responders rushed to the Corner Stop convenience store on Solomon Blatt Avenue where South Carolina law enforcement says a robbery turned into a homicide.
“The close-knit family, all of them worked there in the store together and I know it’s devastating to them because that’s where they worked at. And the business is still there. And I know they would probably want to carry it over but it’s probably hard for them to go back in there. And I can understand that,” said Ted Bellinger.
The Barnwell County Coroner says 60-year-old Ashwinbhai Patel, the owner of the Corner Stop, was shot and killed. A customer inside the store called 911 at 6:45 a.m.
Bellinger said, “I can’t understand why someone would do something like that. Had just opened up. He wouldn’t had no money with him. So that’s where I can’t understand why someone would want to do it because there’s no money. There’s no money. Not a significant amount to take somebody’s life. No amount of money is significant to take someone’s life about.”
A lot of people in Blackville refer to Patel as ‘Andy’ and remember him as one of their own. One man we spoke with said Andy would always ask how his mom was doing when he walked into the store.
Bellinger worked with Andy for at least 20 years as one of his vendors.
He said, “He never seemed to be harsh. He never used a harsh word or mistreatment. Not to me or no one of his customers that I’ve seen in the store while I was there. I would truly like to see justice done because you just don’t go around doing things like that and allow justice not to prevail. Whoever there in Blackville that knows anything about it needs to come forward.”
As the Patel family mourns this tragic loss, Blackville police and SLED are looking for the suspect.
If you have any information call them immediateley.
Blackville Police Department: (803) 284-2333
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED): (803) 737-9000