Ripley Store Clerk Shot & Killed

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(Ripley, TN) The TBI is involved in the search for the person who shot and killed a Ripley, Tennessee store clerk.

So far, no one has been arrested.

That's leaving people in Lauderdale County worried about the violence.

Thirty-eight year old Deepal Patel had a lot of friends in Ripley.

One of them was Michael Dewalt, "That didn't make any sense. He didn't bother nobody."

Dewalt says he can't believe someone murdered Patel.

Investigators say someone walked into the Highway 51 Gas and Convenience Store in Ripley Wednesday night around 11pm and opened fire.

Dewalt says the Patel didn't deserve to die, "A lot of people say they didn't like him, but I liked the little guy. He never gave me any trouble."

The violent crime touched off an intensive search around the store and the nearby Rolling Hills Apartments.

Dewalt lives in the complex and says his apartment was searched twice, "About three o'clock this morning the TBI did. They come in and said they had to search, do a house to house."

Dewalt was in the convenience store Wednesday night just an hour and a half before Patel was murdered, "I didn't see nothin' unusual then. Just an everyday routine thing you know."

Thursday was anything but routine for a crew of roofers working in the apartments.

The men from middle Tennessee are now looking over their shoulders.

Jerry Self says he hopes someone doesn't mistake the sound of their nail guns for the "real" thing,

"We're using nail guns which, they go off all the time left and right, when we're working. And I'm afraid we're going to get shot back at."

Patel's death has a lot of people in Ripley concerned about rising crime.

Roger MIlls owns Mills Food Plaza a mile from where Patel was killed and says Ripley has turned into a combat zone, "I'm upset about it. It makes me angry that you can't feel safe and secure in a small town like this."

The store where Patel was working was recently renovated and it's unknown if there were any security cameras.

Call the TBI or Ripley Police if you can help investigators.