Residents react to news of Hazleton convenience store death investigation

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HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The search is on at this hour for the person who shot and killed a clerk at a convenience store during an armed robbery over the weekend in Hazleton.

Investigators held a late afternoon news conference providing new details about the deadly incident. The deadly armed robbery took place at Craig’s Food Mart on West Broad Street. Investigators and police are now looking for the person responsible and it’s a crime that has stunned Hazleton.

Luzerne County investigators say 50-year-old Ashokkumar Patel was shot and killed during an armed robbery Saturday night at about 9:30 at Craig’s Food Mart on West Broad Street. Detectives say he called Luzerne County 911 after he was shot.

“This should be the season of peace and joy. Instead as the pandemic rages, an essential worker supporting his family was murdered in cold blood. We will not rest until justice is served for this innocent man and his family, and the peace and joy that the people of Hazleton demand is restored,” Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said.

Police are looking for the gunman who was wearing a red or orange Nike hooded sweatshirt. He was driving a dark green Grand Cherokee Jeep model year 2014 to 2018.

Police are also looking for a woman who was a customer inside the store prior to the murder. She was driving a white Ram rebel pickup truck. The license plate was partially secured to the top right part of the truck. Investigators believe she may have information that can lead to the gunman.

“People are getting tough and hard out there. They are getting more dangerous and daring,” John Smulligan, who owns an auto parts store near Craig’s Food Mart said. “I was in shock. It was so close to my business here. I didn’t know what to make of it. It caught everybody off guard.”

Joe Scarcella owns a tuxedo shop just down the street.

“I was shocked Andy but then when I really sat down and thought about it we are living in tough times here. People are out of work. They need to put food on the table. And it always comes down to drugs. It wouldn’t surprise me if it involved drugs. To rob somebody to get your money to go buy drugs,” Scarcella said.

If you have any information on this case you are urged to call Hazleton City Police or 911.

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