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Surveillance shows homeless man before he was killed

Sunoco convenience store owner Rocky Patel has released surveillance stills of Josh Stebbins, hoping it will help prompt someone to call police or give Asheville investigators a tip to arrest the suspect or suspects who killed him. (Photo credit: Rocky Patel)

Sunoco convenience store owner Rocky Patel has released surveillance stills of Josh Stebbins, hoping it will help prompt someone to call police or give Asheville investigators a tip to arrest the suspect or suspects who killed him.

A friend found Stebbins, who was 46 and homeless, behind the Sunoco station at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in a make-shift shelter. The friend called 911, and investigators were at the scene in minutes.

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“It's hard to believe that someone would kill him,” Patel said. “A homeless man. He has nothing. It is senseless.”

Patel said Stebbins was seen on the store's surveillance video about 7 p.m. Thursday buying alcohol. He said the victim struggled with alcohol and panhandled. Patel said he always tried to show compassion to Stebbins, who lived behind his store for the past several years.

“A lot of times I would tell him to leave. But he keeps coming back. He has nowhere else to go. I let him sleep. I try to be nice to him.”

Patel’s surveillance may be critical in helping to solve the crime. Not only does it show Stebbins buying beer, but it also shows him leaving with a friend in a red car. Patel said that friend is not a suspect. But the video gives a timestamp police can work with, knowing Stebbins was seen at 7 p.m. and possibly somewhere else on the surveillance overnight. There could also be other individuals on the surveillance tape investigators may want to speak with.

“He just died for nothing, you know,” said Patel, who wants to see the killing solved.

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