Friends rally around Hindu businessman subjected to nasty Facebook gossip

Owner Sunny Patel, right, talks with Paul Sutton in front of a drink cooler on Wednesday, July 22, 2015, at B&E Convenience Store in Dayton, Tenn. Following the July, 16 shootings in Chattanooga, a Facebook user in Dayton claimed that the owner of B&E Convenience had expressed joy at the news, but Patel, who is Hindu, says he was in Seattle, Wa., at the time and said no one in the store would have been joyful about the shootings.

DAYTON, Tenn. - Over the course of the lunch hour, a continual stream of blue-collar, born-and-bred Rhea County men passed through the doors of B&E Convenience, a small gas station and convenience store on Market Street still known to locals as the old Pilot.

Sunny Patel, the kind-faced, mustachioed owner of this store for 10 years now, knows them all.

And they know him.

Which is why the regulars didn't believe the Facebook rumor circulating last week that Patel was celebrating the fatal shooting that had occurred 40 minutes away in Chattanooga.

"To anyone who goes to the convenience store near Bi-Lo," one Dayton man posted last Friday, "the owner personally told a customer yesterday that he was happy about what happened in Chattanooga yesterday regarding the shooting and the killing of four Marines."