Neighborhood mourns store clerk killed; suspects on the loose

Sanjay Patel

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A single candle holds vigil at the store where Sanjay Patel was murdered Monday night. Alex DeJesus placed it there in remembrance of the man he’s been familiar with since childhood.

“As kids we’d come here and buy stuff,” DeJesus said. “Sometimes if we didn’t have enough money he’d let us take stuff, later bring the money.”

Labeled as a robbery and homicide, New Haven police say two men fatally shot Patel around 7:30 p.m. before running out into the streets of the Annex neighborhood. DeJesus said he was inside the store shopping just minutes before the crime.

“He didn’t deserve that,” DeJesus said. “Anybody who went to rob him, he would’ve gave them the money and let them go about their day. Good community guy. They didn’t have to shoot him, kill him.”

ORIGINAL STORY: New Haven store clerk killed in shooting identified

Those who knew Patel knew him by the nickname “Sonny.” They called him a hard-working family man who lived nearby. They also say that his wife is several months pregnant, expecting their child.

“You’d never think something like that would happen to these guys,” said Peter Rivera, who works nearby as a mechanic. “Good people, treat everybody right. It’s a shame. Sad.”

Police say both suspects wore masks, both had handguns, and both shot Patel multiple times. Patel was alone in the store. They robbed him of money and a box of cigars.

“Whoever robbed him, they didn’t have to do all that,” DeJesus said.

New Haven police say both men were wearing masks, gloves, and sweatshirts. They fled on foot down Fulton Terrace and turned left on Kendall Street.

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