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Elderly Indian-American motel owner shot dead after altercation over room rental

Darpan News Desk IANS, 15 Feb, 2024 05:48 PM
  • Elderly Indian-American motel owner shot dead after altercation over room rental

New York, Feb 15 (IANS) A 76-year-old Indian-origin motel owner has been shot dead in the US state of Alabama following a confrontation over room rental.

Pravin Raojibhai Patel, the owner of the Hillcrest Motel in Sheffield, was gunned down last week after which police arrested 34-year-old William Jeremy Moore, Alabama-based news outlet al.com reported.

Moore was arrested shortly after the incident as he was trying to break into an abandoned house on 13th Avenue, Sheffield Police Chief Ricky Terry said.

According to investigators, Moore wanted to rent a room at the motel when an altercation with Patel took place on February 8, following which the former pulled a handgun and shot the elderly man.

"When searching Moore, the murder weapon was found in his possession," Terry said.

The police chief added that Moore is currently being held in the Sheffield City Jail until a warrant is issued after which he will be transported to the Colbert County Jail.

Jemeriz Owens, who works as a barber across the street from Patel's motel, told WAAY 31 news channel that he heard three gunshots go off back-to-back.

"He (Patel) was outside. He was just trying to get somebody to leave, and they didn't want to leave and they shot him," Owens said.

Patel's body was transported to the Alabama Forensics Lab for an autopsy and a funeral service was held for him at Morrison Funeral Home in Tuscumbia on February 12, according to his obituary.

Calling the incident a "senseless act of violence", the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) said on Thursday that the country's hotel owners are "deeply saddened, shocked, and outraged".

"Senseless acts of violence have no place in our communities, and our hearts are breaking for Pravin's family, including his wife, children, and grandchildren," said AAHOA Chairman Bharat Patel.

"No family should have to endure what Pravin’s family is going through, and we send our condolences to everyone who knew and loved him."

Hoping that authorities will help the Patel family find justice, AAHOA Alabama Regional Director Sanjay M Patel said the motel owner spent more than four decades in the town of Sheffield, owning and operating the same business.

"He was a very family-oriented person, jolly, and a keen businessman. Everyone in town knew him as a familiar face in the community after being there for 40-plus years, and the family was well-known in the community for being genuine and caring," Sanjay Patel said.

Beginning this year, a series of unfortunate incidents involving the Indian community in the US have been reported.

On Monday, an Indian-American couple hailing from Kerala and their four-year-old twins were found dead inside their $2.1 million mansion in San Mateo, California.

Anand Sujith Henry, 42, and his wife Alice Priyanka, 40, were found inside a bathroom with gunshot wounds, while their two sons were found in the bedroom with no signs of trauma on their bodies, according to the police.

Local media reports said Anand was a former software engineering manager at Meta and Google, and wife Alice was a senior analyst.

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