Wheat walked into the convenience store and peered behind the counter around 10.30 p.m. "Then I saw the clerk lying there on the floor, bleeding pretty bad," he said.
Wheat said it was the most blood he has ever seen coming from a living person.
"She just had blood all over her head and a big ol' puddle of blood on the floor. I left the store and got in my truck, called 911," Wheat was quoted as saying.
Wheat said he ran back into the store without knowing whether or not the shooter was still there. "She was kinda moaning as she was breathing," he said.
But the shooter had already fled the scene. Surveillance footage showed the suspect, moments before, asking for cigars and then shooting Patel. Investigators cited by FOX Carolina said they believe the man in the video shot Patel during an attempted robbery.
The shooting left Patel's friends and neighbours shocked. "I just don't know," Dilip Shah said, shaking his head. "She never had any problem with any customers."