MACON, Ga. (AP) — An Asian American businessman is leading a new association that hopes to make business safer after three men who shared his last name were slain during robberies in Georgia in the past two months.
Last weekend, Lou Patel and 10 other business leaders formed the Middle Georgia Asian American Business Community Association, which scheduled a Sept. 22 training session on security cameras and may create self-defense classes and other training sessions.
A recent string of killings and robberies involving Asians has raised concerns.
July 15, Lina Food Store owner Dilipbhai “Danny” Patel was shot and killed in a botched armed robbery of his Baldwin County business, just outside Milledgeville.
Then Dipak “Danny” Patel was shot Aug. 30 after he handed money to men robbing the Chevron station at 1257 Riverside Drive in Macon.
Four nights later on Sept. 4, Jaymal Patel was killed outside a RaceWay convenience store in west Bibb County, on Mercer University Drive near Interstate 475. He’d been waiting for his brother to get off work. He handed over his empty wallet to his assailant before he was shot in the head.
A 16-year-old was charged in Jaymal Patel’s slaying about 15 hours later. Three men, ages 18 to 25, were charged in Dipak Patel’s slaying less than a week after that killing. Deputies are still trying to solve Dilipbhai Patel’s slaying.
David Davis, one of Bibb County’s chief deputies, said investigators have found no evidence to link the three killings, or the victims, or that any of the attacks were personal.
“It was perceived by the criminal element that convenience stores were easy to rob,” he said. “We’re doing all we can to dispel that notion.”
The similar last name and background of the victims raised eyebrows, though it’s unclear if there’s a direct link.
“I think it’s just the economy, tough times. The economy’s what’s affecting everything,” Lou Patel said. “I think the police are doing a good job and we need to focus on safety.”
More than 600 people gathered for a rally in honor of the three men.
“We come here. We want to make a better life for ourselves and our families, and that’s what we’re looking for, a good life,” said Kamal Patel, a British-born man of Indian descent who runs a sandwich shop. “And that’s every Indian and Asian and anyone who comes to this country, really.” ♦