Students and faculty at San Bernardino High School are still coming to terms over the slaying of Bossey Drive-In Dairy owner Mitesh Patel. The 31-year-old father and beloved business owner was shot to death on Friday Jan. 28 after three men robbed him of a few hundred dollars. The SBHS campus sits a block north of the dairy.
Three suspects–Desmond Stevenson, 25, Robert Green, 23, and Jason Allen, 25, all of San Bernardino–have been arrested and are facing murder charges for their crime. All three men have pleaded not guilty.
“I didn’t find out until the day after,” said 16-year-old senior Destiny Calderon. “When my mom told me that he was killed, I started crying. I don’t know what it was. I think it affected me because I realized this person, who I saw on a weekly basis and interacted with, was gone.”
Many of the students and faculty walked over to the Bossey Drive-In Dairy after school to purchase items from Patel, who they described as a “genuine man” and a person “who always noticed the little things.”
“He was sweet and cared about us residents,” said Calderon. “Why would someone want to go rob a store that doesn’t bring in much wealth? No one needed to lose their life over something like that, especially someone who seemed so nice.”
Associated Student Body advisor, culinary arts instructor, and volleyball coach Kim Imbriani remembers driving over to the dairy to purchase eggs. She said Patel’s death has had a negative impact to the morale of the residents.
“It’s a big blow to our city,” she said. “He was a good man and doing a lot of good for us just by being a business owner, and now that’s gone.”
According to a statement written by Amy Patel, a cousin of the victim, Mitesh arrived in the U.S. in 2002 from Umreth–a small village in Gujurat, India. He worked at various convenient stores and fast food chains to pay his way through college and purchase the dairy store with his wife Bhavika.
Besides Bhavika, who is pregnant, Patel is also survived by a three-year-old daughter.
Imbriani said one of the suspects, Robert Green, was a former student at the high school. She said she did not expect that type of behavior from him.
“It was shocking,” she said. “I knew him very well. As a student, he was average. But I didn’t expect anything like this from him. He was one of those kids that seemed to have a chip over his shoulder and wouldn’t want to talk to many people, but he spoke to a few of us. At 23-years-old, this is what it has come to? That’s really sad. You get stuck in the rut in San Bernardino. It’s sucking up a lot of kids now. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get this city back in the right place.”
One of the school’s student delegates, ‘Mr. Cardinal’ Javier Rocha remains optimistic that change will take place. He said he doesn’t have a solution, but that the city’s leadership has to make the initial step to create after school programs and present intervention plans to steer youth away from violence.
“I think many people have had enough,” he said. “Many [students] at this school and the other schools feel there is a future. Speaking for my personal perspective, I want to help the community and help families. I hope other students have similar ideas.”
Senior Diana Arias, 18, is convinced there is still lots of quality among the residents and business owners in the city. She believes it will be these individuals who will provide solutions to crime and violence.
“There are a lot of good people that are willing to put forth the effort to improve the city,” she said. “I think it will help change some of the things that are going on.”