Slain store owner loved in community -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Slain store owner loved in community

May 4, 2004

Albany -- An Albany store owner killed Saturday night by armed robbers was 33 year old Parag Purani, known as P-J to his customers. And he was well liked by most all of them.

The community continues to mourn the tragic death of a friend.

 The family of Parag Purani put a funeral announcement on the door of his store, inviting customers to the service. Cousin Chirag Patel says "He was very well loved, and a lot of people are going to be coming, for sure."

 Tears at the news that two men have been arrested for P.J.'s murder. Purani bought the One Stop Food Store almost two years ago.

 In February 2003 we did a story with P.J. when his store was robbed. Purani snatched a toy gun from the masked man, and then chased him two blocks. Purani said " We are working and they just try to take the easy money from us. No, that is not right."

Born near Bombay India, Purani came to America six years ago. He worked in stores in New Jersey before settling in Albany. Hitesh Patel said "When he came to Albany, he liked Albany. And he checked this business and buy that one."

People in the neighborhood quickly got to know P.J., because he was a special friend. James Chesire said "Everytime you come in, he always had that smile on his face." Beverly Reece said "He was a real nice man. He was always sweet and friendly, and he always talked to you." Daphne Nelson said "I left my two dollar jumbo book here in the store trying to get back to work. Most people if you would leave it in the store, they would have said no you didn't leave it. But he gave it to me. I thought that was a nice gesture."

 But Saturday night about 10:30 while he was sitting in his car leaving his store, when two armed men attacked. Kalpana Patel was in the back seat. "He said give me money. P.J. took the money like this, and his head like that, so the guy just shoot him."

Hitesh Patel has worked at the store for ten years, and watched one of the men charged with P.J.'s murder, Desmond Hart grow up in the neighborhood. Patel said "He come in here everyday. I know him. This boy almost 8 years, he was raised in my eye."

P.J. Purani made the final payment on his store last week. He leaves a wife and a four year old son, and lots of very good friends. P

-J's funeral will be Thursday at 11 o-clock at Matthews Funeral Home. His family says all his customers and friends are welcome

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