Police Search for New Haven Gas Station Clerk's Killer After Shooting

Police are searching for the killer of New Haven gas station clerk fatally shot Monday night in an apparent robbery, marking the city's third homicide of the year.

The Pay Rite food mart at the gas station on Forbes Avenue near the Fulton Street intersection was still closed Tuesday morning as police continue to investigate and search for two people possibly involved.

Gunfire broke out at the gas station store around 7:30 p.m. Monday during an apparent robbery, according to New Haven police.

The clerk, identified as 39-year-old Sanjay Patel, was shot three times in the chest and once in the hand. Patel was taken to Yale-New Haven hospital, where he died an hour later, police said.

Gas station owner Raj Ali told NBC Connecticut Tuesday that he was almost too emotional to speak about how his employee lost his life.

"For a couple hundred dollars they took one human life away," Ali said. "It's not worth it. It's bad."

Witnesses saw two masked men running from the scene southbound on Fulton Terrace.

"We're looking for two people that may be involved," said New Haven police spokesman Officer David Hartman. "We don't necessarily believe that two were firing guns. We know at least one was."

Ali remembered Patel as someone who knew everybody.

"He loved them. He joked with mjaority of the people," Ali said. "I don't know. I cannot believe that happened to him."

Police said they don't believe there were any customers inside the gas station store – a Pay Rite food mart – when the robbers walked in. They'll check surveillance video as part of the investigation.

Danny Scarpellino, who owns Scarpellino's Restaurant across from the gas station knew Patel and was shocked to find out his neighbor in business, whose wife was 8 months pregnant with the couple's first child, died so tragically just doing his job.

"It's a tragedy....for money," Scarpelino said. "Go in a store and shoot a guy like that for what reason?"

Now as police search for the suspected robbers, the community is hoping for justice.

"Sooner or later, the police are going to catch them and take them," Ali said. "That's what we're expecting. That's what we believe."

Police are asking anyone with information to come forward and call police at 203-946-6304.

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