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Store owner shot 2 days after his brother

St. Petersburg police investigate a shooting Wednesday night at the Suhani convenience store on Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr. Street N in St. Petersburg.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

St. Petersburg police investigate a shooting Wednesday night at the Suhani convenience store on Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr. Street N in St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG — The owner of a convenience store was shot during a robbery Wednesday night, just two days after his brother was shot during a similar robbery at a St. Petersburg deli.

Indravadan Patel, 46, was shot during a holdup at his store at 2539 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N. The store, which is now called Suhani, was well-known for years as MaNNY's before Patel bought it in 2005.

Police said Patel was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in stable condition and was talking when he arrived. In fact, police said Patel told them that his brother had been in Room 203.

On Monday night, Narendra Patel was shot during a robbery at his store, Star Deli, 2451 Fifth Ave. N. He was released from the hospital Wednesday.

"That's two family members in three days. That's just too much of a coincidence," said Janmejay Patel, the son of Narendra Patel. "It just doesn't seem safe to run a small business now."

Police hadn't made arrests in either shooting late Wednesday night. Police said they hadn't determined if the robberies are related.

"Who knows? Robberies this time of year pick up," said St. Petersburg police Lt. Mike Kovacsev. "You get things like this happening."

The Patel family rushed to the convenience store Wednesday night after the shooting. A woman among them was wearing pajama bottoms.

Police said the holdup occurred about 10:15 p.m. Family members said Patel was cooperating with the robber when he was shot. His brother also cooperated with his attacker Monday but was shot anyway.

Police didn't release a detailed description of the robber, but said he may have had an accomplice. They were reviewing a surveillance tape early today.

Patel bought the well-known store from Manny Bonotan, who had run one of the few independent gas stations in the county. The store had become an icon in the city, and Patel promised to run it much the same when he took over.

"We'll have cheaper gas prices than the brand stores. Just like before," he told the St. Petersburg Times in 2006.

Patel named the store Suhani after his daughter.

"It's upsetting because you have a businessman just struggling to make a living and then something like this happens," said Tim Rinker, who owns the barbershop next door to Suhani.

Rinker heard about the shooting and came to the store. He said his employees often shop there, while Patel comes to his place for haircuts.

"Before anybody else gets hurt we want to catch these guys," Janmejay Patel said. "This is not funny any more. This is very scary."

Police are asking anyone with information about the robberies to call 727-893-7780.

Store owner shot 2 days after his brother 12/04/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 10:45pm]
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