Oella storekeeper shot during robbery His condition listed as serious

December 12, 1992|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Staff Writer

Somehow, before he fell bleeding to the floor of his Country Corner Store in Oella, Jagdish "Jay" K. Patel managed to call 911, and then telephone his wife and his landlord.

"He said, 'Somebody shot me, come down to the store right away,' " recalled Mabel Mascaro, the wife of Mr. Patel's landlord, Pat Mascaro.

Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a police spokesman, said Mr. Patel was shot at least twice in the head yesterday during the robbery, shortly after 12:30 p.m.

When the Mascaros got to the store at Oella and Westchester avenues, the 43-year-old storekeeper was still conscious and talking. Bad weather grounded MedEvac helicopters, so he was driven by ambulance to the Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He was listed there last night in serious but stable condition.

Several hours later, Baltimore County detectives were stepping around the blood spatters on the store's linoleum tiles, trying to determine what, if anything had been taken. Some cash remained in the register, police said.

Cpl. Andrew MacLellan, of the county's Wilkens Precinct, said witnesses described the suspects as two black males in their late 20s, one dressed in a white hooded top. The other, in a black hooded top, carried a handgun. One of the men also wore eyeglasses, he said.

Witnesses told police the suspects fled the scene in a small, red hatchback driven by a third black male.

"I've been working this area for 10 years, and we've gotten some break-ins, but I can't recall the last robbery," said Corporal MacLellan. Oella is a relatively rural, out-of-the-way corner of Baltimore County not far from Ellicott City.

Mr. Patel's store, which he has operated for 10 years, is a small country grocery that provides residents with soda, cigarettes, a deli counter, basic items and a place to gather.

"He gave everybody credit," said Karen Jones, who lives nearby. "If somebody came in hungry, he would feed them. I can't believe anybody would do that to Jay."

Mr. Mascaro said Mr. Patel lives near Catonsville, with his wife and 10-year-old son. The Oella community association sponsors a Christmas party for neighborhood children every year, he said, "but he [Mr. Patel] does all the work."

Corporal MacLellan said two of the suspects had entered the store some time before the assault, apparently to look the place over.

Mr. Mascaro said a witness told him the men asked Mr. Patel for directions to the post office and then bought something before leaving. They then stood for a time in the parking lot, arousing Mr. Patel's suspicions.

After a short while, police said, the men re-entered the store. One of them grabbed a customer by the arm and ordered him to lie quietly on the floor.

Mr. Mascaro said the customer told him one of the suspects then ordered money from Mr. Patel. "Then there were two shots, and that was it," he said.

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