JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- The man accused of shooting and killing a Jeffersonville gas station owner apologized for the crime after his initial court appearance on Monday.
"The only thing I can say is I'm really, I'm sorry that that happened," 35-year-old Antonio McRae told reporters outside the Clark County courtroom. "It was not intended to happen. I ... did not go in there intending to harm Mr. Patel at all."
Police say McRae shot and killed Praful Patel on Oct. 11. Officers were called to the Stop & Go gas station on Allison Lane near Jeffersonville High School around 10:50 p.m. after a female customer called 911 to report that she was inside the store and there was no sign of anyone behind the counter. They found Patel dead in the office area of the store.
Police said at the time that the suspect held Patel at gunpoint before shooting him and taking the business's cash. Parker declined to say how much money was taken before the suspect took off on foot.
McRae was arrested for the crime over the weekend. But when asked by reporters why he brought a gun to the gas station, he claimed the shooting itself was an accident.
"Honestly, I brung (sic) it, it was, I was gonna just rob," he said. "I was trying to push him into the room and, you know, he turned and grabbed the gun and tried to slam the door and the gun went off. That's how it happened. I didn't pull the trigger intentionally."
McRae said his own guilty conscience led to his arrest.
"Honestly, I gave myself up and just 'cause it was a burden," he said. "I couldn't sleep or anything."
But Jeffersonville Police say it was a tip on Saturday that led them to McRae.
"We were in a tough spot and needed the community's help," Sgt. Isaac Parker said.
Detectives say McRae confessed to the murder in an interview with police. They found him at his Beech Grove apartment, less than a half mile away from the gas station where Patel was killed.
Police say they found a gun and similar clothing to the suspect's in McRae's apartment.
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said he plans to file one count of murder and one count of robbery against McRae, adding that he wants McRae to be "sent off to prison for the rest of his life."
“This case is very personal to me," he said. "I've met the family. I've spent time at the crime scene just seeing the effects of this crime."
Of Patel, he said, "This was a good man, and he didn’t deserve what happened to him. He was working very, very hard to try to take care of his family, and I want to get justice for him."
He also said he felt the evidence was strong against McRae.
"It's obvious, based on his reaction in the hallway, what his emotional state is right now. So that’s all evidence that I will be assessing and looking at its admissibility for future proceedings," Mull said.
A not guilty plea was entered on McRae's behalf during his Monday morning appearance.
Patel was well-known and well-liked in the community. His family had owned the convenience store for many years. Many customers stopped by the store after the murder to leave flowers and candles on the sidewalk outside the store.
McRae is being held at the Clark County Jail. The judge decided that no bond would be permitted.
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