Suspect identified, arrested in Lexington gas station killing

jwarren@herald-leader.comDecember 10, 2013 

Lexington police have charged an 18-year-old man with murder and robbery in the fatal shooting of a Marathon gas station attendant.

Police said they arrested Travis Michael Bredhold on Tuesday at Fayette Mall. He is accused of killing Mukeshbhai Patel, 51, at the Marathon gas station at 1758 Alexandria Drive. Patel, who was working alone at the time of the shooting, died at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.

Detectives made an arrest in the case — the city's 20th homicide — in less than 24 hours.

A surveillance image was released Monday evening, just hours after Patel was found by a customer. The surveillance photo included a distinctive coat and hat, and a nearly clear shot of a man's face. Police also provided a description of the vehicle he was driving.

The announcement of an arrest came Tuesday afternoon, shortly after police revealed that they had obtained an arrest warrant for Bredhold. He is a 2013 graduate of Bryan Station High School, according to his Facebook page, which includes pictures of firearms and cash.

A customer found Patel when she went to the Marathon station just after 3 p.m. Monday. She called police.

The coroner's report said Patel suffered a gunshot wound, but the cause of death is pending. An autopsy was performed.

Harry Singh, who owns the Marathon station, said Tuesday that Patel was a kind, good man and a great dad. Singh said he knew Patel only as an employee, whom he called "Mike" or "Shorty."

"Mike didn't even have a chance to act or respond," Singh said in describing what happened during the shooting Monday. "He was shot, I think, one time in the chest."

Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said earlier Tuesday that she could not say whether Patel resisted his assailant.

On Tuesday, the front entrance of the gas station became a memorial to Patel, with cards, candles and signs. One read, "Mike you are gone, but not forgotten." Another said, "R.I.P. Mike Patel."

Singh has owned the station since 2008. He said Patel worked from noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 3 p.m. to midnight on Saturday.

Singh said that because of the shooting, he has decided to close the business until after Patel's funeral. No arrangements have been released yet.

"It's really heartbreaking," he said. "It's still a really scary situation."

Singh said that when the station reopens, he'll work the majority of the hours because employees don't want to work.

"Employees are scared," he said. "We are scared. I'm scared."

Singh said the back door of the gas station, through which the shooter entered, will be closed and locked indefinitely. Patrons will have to use the front entrance, he said.

Singh said he couldn't afford a security guard, but he hopes to start scheduling two people to work at the business. Bulletproof glass also is a possibility, he said.

The Marathon station shooting was the latest in a series of gas station robberies, shootings and other violent crimes in Lexington.

An 18-year-old convenience store clerk was shot in the stomach during an attempted robbery Nov. 25 on Squires Road. In that case, the clerk began throwing items at three armed robbers, who then began shooting, hitting the teen.

On Nov. 8, a 74-year-old Navy veteran died after he was beaten and stabbed during a robbery at his home. An acquaintance, Henry Stacy, has been charged in that case.

The list also included two fatal shootings outside Divas Gentleman's Club since September.

And Monday afternoon, shortly before the Marathon station shooting, someone fired several shots into a home on Londonderry Drive, only a few blocks from Alexandria Drive.

Roberts, the police spokeswoman, said that despite the recent cases, violent crime in Lexington is down this year compared with 2012.

"I do think we are seeing more use of weapons to perpetuate violent crimes in the past few months," she said. "So, while the amount of violent crime is down, we are seeing more weapons used in the violent crimes that are occurring."

Roberts said that both the shooting on Londonderry and the one at the Marathon station occurred in the police department's west sector. Those cases didn't appear to be connected, but they did mark a change in that sector, Roberts said.

"We haven't seen this sort of activity before in the west sector," she said.

Roberts said that, so far, gas station owners haven't called police with concerns about robberies.

"But we would welcome any business owner who would like to sit down and talk about ways to make their businesses more secure," she said. "There are some very simple things that could be done. We would gladly help anyone develop a plan."

Roberts said police advise business owners or employees to never resist robbers. Such a move can invite violent retaliation, she said.

"We can't stress enough that people should comply," she said. "If you do comply, the suspects that we generally see do not harm you."

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @hlpublicsafety.

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