- Stench of robbery as Rs 30 lakh goes missing after attack; eyewitnesses say assailant black
Das’s wife Binarani (lying down) and son Shouvik (extreme right) mourn his death at their Nadia home. Picture by Manoj Biswas
Feb. 24: A 48-year-old man from Nadia who had migrated to the US 12 years ago and owned four grocery stores in Atlanta was shot dead yesterday during an apparent robbery bid.
Suhrid Das was found lying in front of one of the outlets of his Banna Grocery franchise on Irwin Street in southeast Atlanta by residents around 10.30pm on Wednesday (local time). He had a bullet injury in his abdomen. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Suhrid was closing his store when he was confronted by a black man, American websites clatl.com and wbstv.com quoted eyewitnesses as saying. The attacker escaped on foot.
Atlanta police lieutenant Paul Guerrucci said Suhrid had just left the store when he was pushed back inside by the attacker. It is, however, not clear if Suhrid was shot inside the shop or outside.
A video released by the police that is available on the websites shows the suspected attacker in a deep blue full-sleeve outfit entering the shop and firing a few shots in different directions before leaving. No one else is visible in the footage.
PTI reported that the police, responding to a phone call, went to the store and found Suhrid lying on the ground.
Suhrid’s younger brother Sanjoy, who is doing his MBA in Delhi, said at least $60,000 (Rs 30 lakh) was missing from the shop. “We are yet to get more details. But we have heard from Sujitda (another brother of Suhrid who lives in Atlanta with him) that borda(Suhrid) had struck a deal to sell one of his shops and got $60,000 as advance. The money is missing since the assailant left,” he said.
Another of the Das brothers, Ajoy, who too is doing his MBA in Delhi, said there was a robbery at the same shop last year. “The robbers had taken away $40,000 (Rs 20 lakh) then. So, before closing his shop and leaving with the earnings for the day, borda always used to check if any person was moving around suspiciously on the street,” Ajoy said.
“The employees of the store have told Sujitda that on Wednesday night, borda saw two men moving about suspiciously. Borda was returning to his shop when he was shot,” he added. Ajoy, however, said he had come to know that Suhrid had been shot in the back.
People in the locality said the store had been robbed “two-three times” earlier.
Wbstv.com quoted the Atlanta police as saying it was unclear if the shooting and the robbery were connected.
Taria Camerino, a co-owner of a candy store in the building where Suhrid’s store is located, said a robber had “targeted” her outlet too. She described Suhrid as a “very nice” man. “We would chat sometimes.... He always seemed really sweet,” Camerino said.
Jimbo Billups, who lives in the locality, said: “I hate to see him (Suhrid) go out like that because he was a good man.”
When The Telegraph called up the Atlanta police department tonight, the person who received the call said it was a “case of homicide” and a “matter of investigation”, before hanging up.
Suhrid’s family members in his ancestral home in Badkulla’s Suravisthan village, around 95km from Calcutta, said he had gone to Atlanta after getting a salesman’s job 12 years ago. Gradually, he set up four grocery stores, mainly selling Indian spices and ready-to-eat items.
Suhrid had taken brother Sujit to Atlanta later to help him.
“Besides helping borda, he also worked as a floor manager in a shopping mall,” Sanjoy said.
Suhrid’s wife Binarani said: “On Tuesday night, my husband told me he had finalised a deal to sell one of his shops. I had told him not to keep too much cash with him as there had been a robbery at his shop earlier.”
The couple’s son Shouvik studies in Class VIII in Badkulla United Academy. “He had told me that he would send home the bulk of the money he got from selling the shop.”
Sanjoy and Ajoy met chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Delhi airport last afternoon on their way to Nadia and informed her about the incident. Mamata called up Union minister of state for shipping Mukul Roy and instructed him to help the brothers bring Suhrid’s body back home.
“I have got in touch with the US embassy in Delhi. We are trying our best to ensure that the body reaches Nadia as early as possible,” Roy said.