Macon Police Chief Promises to 'Hunt These Thugs Down'

8:21 AM, Oct 29, 2010   |    comments
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At a news conference to discuss Wednesday night's fatal shooting, Macon police chief Mike Burns asked for the public's help in catching the killers and promised to "hunt these thugs down."

Burns also said that, before the shooting, Mayor Robert Reichert promised him additional resources to stem the recent wave of shootings, including overtime for additional police patrols.

Meanwhile, Macon police are still investigating the fatal shooting of store clerk 58-year-old Vishnu Patel after an armed robbery outside his store.

Macon police also released surveillance-video photos of the shooting Thursday afternoon.

Spokeswoman Jami Gaudet says it happened at the Sprint food store at 3911 Napier Ave. around 11:20 p.m. Wednesday. 

 Chief Burns says Officer Todd Durbin first heard the shots and while headed in that direction, was dispatched to the store. 

A police report says Durbin found Vishnu Patel on the ground, bleeding.

Gaudet says three store clerks were walking to their vehicles after closing the store when three men, dressed in all black, walked up to them demanding their wallets and keys to a car.

The men took their wallets and told Vishnu Patel who had already sat down in the van to get out.  One of the suspects said that Vishnu Patel took too long to get out of the van and then shot him multiple times, according to a police report. 

Bibb County Corner Leon Jones says Patel was taken to the Medical Center of Central Georgia where he was pronounced dead.

Police said the van was found Thursday morning on Matheson Drive, about a mile away.

At Thursday's news conference, Burns said the other two men were robbed of between $1,600 and $2,000.

Stray bullets from the shooting struck an open daycare center that still had children inside.

Employees found the bullets Thursday morning at Brown's Learning Center at 3895 Napier Ave. The daycare is open until midnight. No injuries have been reported there.

Burns said Patel had worked at the store for a couple years.

A friend of the victim, Charles Williams says friends called Vishnu "Victor" and says he likely was not armed since he didn't believe in carrying a gun.

He described Patel as a friendly man who welcomed him into his home and shared his culture. 

"Invited me to Temple," said Williams.  "Weddings, eatings, family functions."

He fielded calls Thursday from many who had the same question he did.

"Why people want to do this?," said Williams.

Williams was at the store Thursday morning to clean up the murder scene, including spraying away the blood.

Jones says Patel's killing is Macon's 18th homicide for the year.

That's as many as in all of 2009, when FBI statistics showed that Macon had the highest murder and homicide rate among Georgia cities with populations over 10,000.

Chief Burns says police have cleared 14 of the 18 killings this year.

If you have information on this crime, you can call Macon Regional Crimestoppers and 1-877-68 Crime.

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