SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. --A small clue led to two suspects wanted in the murder of a San Bernardino, California convenience store clerk being taken into custody, according to police.
Three days after 36-year-old Mitesh Patel was gunned down, two men, 23-year-old Robert Green and 25-year-old Desmond Stevenson, were arrested.
San Bernardino police said they cracked the case by an attentive detective who recognized a distinguishing feature on the rims of the suspected vehicle from a case he worked more than a year ago.
"Regardless of all the technology that we have, at the end of the day, that technology is only as good as the people, you know, using it," San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. "In this case, it was just truly good police work that connected things and somebody's memory from a prior case."
Officials said Green and Stevenson held Patel at gunpoint while robbing him at the convenience store just before 10 p.m. on Friday. Even though Patel gave them the money, police said Stevenson, a documented gang member, shot and killed him.
Officials said just minutes after robbing and shooting Patel, the suspects attempted to rob a liquor store at gunpoint.
"What did they get out of it? They wanted the money, he gave you the money, why shoot a life?" asked Patel's cousin, who requested to not be identified.
According to Patel's family, he leaves behind a wife and a 3-year-old daughter.
"He was a family man. He was really generous, I mean, I don't have words for him," his cousin said. "Life is precious, you know, what happens to his wife? What happens to his daughter? You got the money, that's what you were out for, I don't know why they shoot at him."
Customers described Patel as a heartwarming and selfless person.
"So many times you'd be a little short on cash, he'd say, 'Ah catch me tomorrow,' you know, just that kind of guy. I'd often pull up and see kids you know hanging around here, and he'd give them some free candy and stuff like that," customer Tim Furman recalled.
A GoFundMe page has been established for the Patel family. You can donate here: www.gofundme.com/miteshpatel.