• Tuesday, April 16, 2024

US News

Indian American hotelier gunned down in Alabama

Pramod ThomasBy: Pramod Thomas

AN ALABAMA HOTELIER, Pravin Raojibhai Patel, was shot and killed last week after a confrontation with a man asking for a room, according to the Sheffield, Alabama, Police Department.

William Jeremy Moore, 34, was arrested in connection with the incident, which comes three years after a series of similar killings of Indian American Hotel owners.

Patel, 76, was the owner of the Hillcrest Motel in Sheffield. Last Thursday (8), Moore came to the motel and tried to get a room when an altercation started between the two men.

“That is when Moore pulled a handgun and shot Patel,” Sheffield Police chief Ricky Terry said in the report. “Moore was quickly apprehended by Sheffield Police on 13th Avenue when he was trying to break into an abandoned house. When searching Moore, the murder weapon was found in his possession.”

Indian American hotelier gunned down in Alabama
William Jeremy Moore

Jemeriz Owens, who works as a barber across the street from Patel’s motel, told a local news station that he heard three gunshots go off back-to-back. He ran to the motel and found police attending to Patel, who was dead outside his office.

“That was the shocking part, man,” said Owens. “I didn’t think it was going to be Patel. There’s always something going on over there, but that was the last thing I would’ve thought would happen.”

Owens said Patel was just trying to do his job.

“He was outside,” continued Owens. “He was just trying to get somebody to leave, and they didn’t want to leave and they shot him.”

Moore, 34, is being held in the Sheffield City Jail in connection with Patel’s shooting death.

Moore is being held in the Sheffield City Jail until a warrant is issued, Terry said, and he will then be transported to the Colbert County Jail.

A funeral service was held for Patel at Morrison Funeral Home in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on Monday (12), according to Patel’s obituary.

He is survived by his wife, Renukaben Patel, and children, Nital Patel (Sandeep) and Nirmal Patel (Jeenal). He also has three brothers, Harshad, Indravaden and Harendra Patel, a sister, Manju Patel, and grandchildren Jaiden, Myya, Leeya and Ariyana Patel.

His parents, Raojibhai and Maniben Patel, and another brother, Hasmukh Patel, previously passed away.

“Patel was such a nice, warm gentleman. I knew him for many years as he owned one of the motels in our area,” said Susann Hamlin, president of the Colbert County Tourism Office in Tuscumbia, in a comment on Morrison Funeral Home’s website. “Such a pleasant and sweet man with a lovely wife and children. I am so sad for the family and also, glad that I had the privilege to know him.”

Bindoo Patel also left a comment.

“I knew Pravinbhai for the last 50 years. He was a very good person by heart,” Bindoo said. “I cannot believe this happened to him.”

In 2021, Cleveland, Mississippi, hotelier Yogesh Patel was beaten to death by a guest he had had evicted from his hotel earlier in the day. In March of that year, Usha and Dilip Patel were victims of a shooting in their Elkton, Maryland, hotel that left Usha dead and her husband wounded.

Other similar incidents also were reported that year. Cecil Staton, then AAHOA president and CEO, said at the time the attacks were part of a pattern.

“America’s hotel owners are shocked and outraged by this senseless act of violence against two small business owners doing their jobs,” Staton said.

“Attacks against hoteliers continue to increase, and this is yet another horrendous episode of violence against Asian Americans that is plaguing our society. It must stop now.”

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