Millbrook police need the public’s help in finding a gunman, after a neighborhood convenience store owner was shot and robbed Wednesday night.
Police Chief P.K. Johnson says his investigators been working through the night, and all day, to find the man responsible for the shooting and robbery at Pit Stop on Main Street.
While officers are searching for the unknown suspect, customers are concerned about the owner, who many call their friend.“He was real friendly, very friendly, he was a nice guy,” Joseph Oliver of Millbrook said. Oliver lives directly across the street from Pit Stop and says police surrounded his neighborhood after the shooting happened shortly before 8:30 p.m.In the pouring rain, customers drove to the now closed Pit Stop, to check on the store owner, 43-year old, Pankaj Patel. Police say Patel was shot twice, in the ear and shoulder before the suspect fled the scene with the cash register.“He'd give his shirt off his back, to anybody, you know, he'll make you smile, he'll make you feel better,” Jennifer Stanfield of Millbrook said. Stanfield and her husband live a few houses down from the gas station and stop in to see Patel every day.
Pit Stop customers know Patel as "Peter," so people were shocked he was hurt in the robbery.
“It kinda shook the city up, it kinda had everybody nervous last night because the police were walking around with the dogs,” Oliver said.
Police Chief Johnson also believes the gunman targeted Patel on purpose.
“Bullets are only going to go where you aim them at, so we have to assume that this individual intended to shoot him in that area,” Johnson said.
This isn't the first incident at the Pit Stop, Millbrook Police believe the same man involved in the shooting robbed the store before.
“It's unusual to have a robbery like this where someone has actually been shot,” Johnson said, explaining how these crimes are “not normal” for Millbrook.
Police say they want Patel to rest, after being released from a Montgomery Hospital Thursday morning, and then they will have him look at line-ups of suspects.
“He feels sure that he will be able to identify this person even though he had a mask on, he thinks he knows who it is,” Johnson said.
Stanfield says Patel treats customers as more than business, but like family. “He's helped us when we needed help, and right now he needs everybody that he's helped, he needs to know that we'll stand by him, through thick and thin,” she said.
Thursday morning police were unable to release the surveillance footage from inside Pit Stop to CBS-8 News, but Chief Johnson says he is confident his officers will find the gunman.
-Weight: 150-160 lbs.
-Dark Clothing, mask and gloves
Crime Stoppers is also offering $1,000 cash reward for anyone with information leading to the man's arrest. Call 334- 215-STOP (7867)