Police offer $1,000 reward in Centerville robbery shooting

wcrenshaw@macon.comMay 2, 2014 

CENTERVILLE -- When a gunman walked into the Pure convenience store late one night in February, clerk Rohitkumar Patel’s response was right out of the police textbook.

The robber told him to get money out of a cash register -- and he did. The robber told him to get money out of a second register -- and he did. He didn’t argue. He kept his hands in the air.

Still, somehow, in the end he was on the floor in a pool of blood, clinging to life after being shot in the face.

“He fully complied,” said Detective Sgt. Phillip Pritchett. “That’s one thing that makes this so bad. If he had come to us and asked us ‘What do I do if I get robbed?’ he did exactly what we would have told him to do.”

On Friday, investigators held a news conference announcing a $1,000 reward from Macon Regional CrimeStoppers for information that leads to an arrest in the case.

“All possible leads have been followed and exhausted,” Capt. Roger Hayes said.

They released photos from the store’s security camera system. The photos show the suspect, wearing a bandana over his face, pointing the gun at Patel, who was known as “Roy” to customers.

The only other person in the store at the time is a customer who is seen in one of the photos standing next to the gunman.

Patel, 38, was initially listed in critical condition at The Medical Center of Central Georgia. After several surgeries, he is back home, but his mouth is wired shut and he can’t work, Hayes said.

“He’s got a long road ahead of him,” Hayes said. “He still has several more surgeries ahead of him to repair damage that was done. But he will ultimately be fine.”

He added that Patel was well-liked by customers and known for his friendly nature. In fact, people in the area spoke so well of him that investigators believe it points to the possibility that the shooter was not from the surrounding neighborhood.

The initial description of the bandit estimated that he was about 5 feet tall. After reviewing the video, however, investigators think he was 5 to 8 inches taller. He is believed to be a black male, wearing a blue cap, a red bandana and blue gloves.

A bullet was recovered and the gun was determined to be a .40-caliber semiautomatic. From looking at the video, Hayes said the gun appeared to be distinctive in that it had an extended magazine that may have held 20 bullets.

The robbery happened about 10:20 p.m. Feb. 12. The store is located at 820 N. Houston Lake Blvd.

Anyone with information is asked to call Pritchett at 478-953-4222 or Macon Regional Crimestoppers at 478-742-2330. Tips can be anonymous.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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