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New Haven police discuss details of arrests in store clerk homicide

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NEW HAVEN -- Police held a press conference Friday to talk more about the arrests made in connection with the death of Sanja Patel, who was shot and killed during a robbery last month.

Courtesy of India Today

Courtesy of India Today

Patel, 39, was shot and killed during a robbery on Monday, April 6. Patel worked at the Pay Rite Food Store/ Citgo Gas Station at 262 Forbes Ave. Officers say he was shot several times. He was rushed to Yale – New Haven Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

When he passed, his wife, Bhavanaben Chevada, was six months pregnamt. She has been leading the charge to find the people responsible for her husband's death.

“She’s expecting a child,” said New Haven Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso. “She lost her husband. The child’s never gonna know his father. I mean, you know, if that doesn’t tear at your heart, nothing’s going to.”

Dwayne Sayles / New Haven Police

Dwayne Sayles / New Haven Police

Now, Patel’s wife is about give birth to the couple’s first child after six years of trying to become pregnant.

“I miss my baby,” Chevada said as she sobbed. Baby is what Patel and Chevada always called one another.

At the press conference, a family friend read a statement that Chevada wanted delivered to the three suspects: “I want the Lord to bring justice upon this incident and make sure they never leave the prison and suffer and feel the pain they inflicted upon my husband,” the statement read.

Among the three New Haven men arrested was 22-year-old Leighton Vanderberg, who is already in jail after confessing to involvement in the murder of a Bridgeport store owner five days after Patel was killed.

“Early on, to make it clear, we knew that our shooters were different people than the people they were looking at in Bridgeport,” said Generoso.

Leighton Vanderberg

Leighton Vanderberg

Generoso said they are certain Vanderberg was the driver of the getaway car following Patel’s death. The car police allege he drove was a light green,  late model Ford Focus, which looks very similar to the car connected to the Bridgeport murder, which the store owner’s wife said Vanderberg committed.

Generoso adds that If ”you look at the video, you can tell Vanderberg, who is a very tall, slim individual, doesn’t fit the profile of the two shooters.”

Jamal Sumler / New Haven Police

Jamal Sumler / New Haven Police

Police believe Dwayne Sayles, 22, and Jamal Sumler, 24, shot Patel a total of five times. Generoso says his detectives poured over hundreds of hours of video, from all across the Elm City  to bring justice to Patel’s family, and on Thursday morning, just before 11:30 a.m., police arrested Sayles.

Sayles was charged with felony murder, murder, criminal possession of a pistol and first-degree robbery. He is currently in custody at police headquarters.

Two other suspects--Vanderberg and Sumler, are already in custody for other crimes.