Modesto police have arrested a suspect in the stabbing death of a Hatch Road convenience store clerk on the night of May 4.
That night about 11:15, a man came into Hatch Food & Gas and got into an argument with clerk Jagjeet Singh, 32, over the sale of cigarettes, police said. The man left the store and drove away.
About half an hour later, Singh was stabbed outside the store.
At a point in the investigation, police thought the initial man who went into the store returned with a second man, dressed differently, who stabbed Singh as the clerk was closing the business.
But detectives received information that the man captured on surveillance footage in the store, wearing a tank top and khaki shorts, and the man outside, wearing a beanie and jacket, were one and the same: 23-year-old Lester Portillo.
A search warrant was served Thursday afternoon at Portillo’s southwest Modesto residence, where he was taken into custody. He was later booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of murder. He is being held without bail.
No second suspect is being sought. “The clothing change was a little bit different for us,” MPD spokeswoman Heather Graves said Friday morning. “Who does that? Apparently, this guy does.”
The call after Singh was stabbed was for medical aid for a man who was possibly having a seizure. Paramedics discovered the clerk – in the U.S. only 18 months – had been stabbed. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries.
Singh is survived by family in Modesto and in India, including his wife and two sons, ages 7 and 9, in his home state of Punjab. A fundraising account has been set up on Fundly.com in his honor.
As the investigation continues, anyone with information on the case is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 209-521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters may also text information to Crime Stoppers at 274637. Just type “TIP704” along with your message.