Investigators say a burnt SUV found behind an abandoned house in west Macon on Thursday is the same vehicle used by gunmen who fatally shot store clerk Prakash Patel at a Bloomfield Drive food mart last month.
The 2008 Saturn Vue had been set on fire and ditched in the 3800 block of Log Cabin Drive, about two miles north of the Gary Food mart where Patel was killed.
The SUV, which authorities had been looking for since the slaying, was found about 10:30 a.m.
Patel, 40, was fatally shot on June 18 by two men who were robbing the store.
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The bandits, armed with a sawed-off shotgun, made off with about $300 in the 1:20 a.m. holdup, leaving Patel, a husband and father of two children, to die.
A few hours before the killing, the four-door, charcoal-gray SUV was stolen at gunpoint at Reliance Food Mart at 3590 Mumford Road.
When it turned up burned Thursday, it was a mile or so from the scene of the carjacking, ditched behind an abandoned house near the former Durr’s Lake.
It was unclear when the car had been burned, but Bibb County sheriff’s officials said it wasn’t on fire when it was found.
Though authorities have not publicly mentioned it, the ditched car's location — its proximity to where the carjacking happened — could suggest that the suspects have ties to the greater Bellevue neighborhood near Napier Avenue and Mumford Road.