An Indian American businessman who owned a gentlemen’s club in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was fatally shot at the establishment, allegedly by a customer, late night Nov. 11.
Akash Talati, 40, who owned the Diamondz Ultra Lounge as well as the Knight’s Inn across the street, was allegedly killed by Markeese Dewitt. He died at a nearby hospital. Dewitt shot at four other people, who have been hospitalized, with varied degrees of severity in their injuries from the shooting.
Talati is survived by his wife Mital; his eight-year-old son Jai; his sister Rupal, who lives in New Jersey; and his parents, who live in Anand, Gujarat. Arrangements for a funeral service have not yet been announced by the family.
Lt. Todd Joyce, of the Fayetteville, North Carolina Police Department, told India-West that a security guard at the club tried to intervene as Dewitt was shooting, and managed to shoot the suspect.
Dewitt, 23, of Fayetteville, has been charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. He was shot four times by the security guard and remains in serious condition at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville.
The security guard – who is not being named – suffered minor injuries and has been released from the hospital, according to Joyce.
Joyce told this newspaper no motive had yet been established. Police are not yet releasing what was happening at the club before Dewitt started his violent attack. Joyce said he could not yet say whether Dewitt was being thrown out of the establishment.
Detective Jamaal Littlejohn of the Fayetteville Police Department told The Fayetteville Observer that security escorted Dewitt out of the club because he had caused a disturbance. He said Dewitt appeared to have gone to his vehicle, got a gun, went back inside the club and started shooting.
Littlejohn said police have no idea what caused Dewitt to get kicked out of the club.
“All we know is he got put out, he goes and gets a gun and it goes crazy from there,” Littlejohn told The Fayetteville Observer.
The front-desk manager at the Knight’s Inn – who asked not to be named – told India-West this was the first incident of its kind at either the motel or the club. She said Talati had owned both establishments for about 10 years; she has worked there for 21 years.
“It was such a shock. I still can’t believe this happened,” she said. “Mr. Talati was an excellent employer. You could never find anyone like that.”
“He was a really compassionate man. He treated me like family,” said the front-desk manager, noting that the Talatis had invited her home for meals on many occasions. “You just don’t find people like that,” she said.
The Knight’s Inn remains open. The Diamondz Ultra Lounge was closed on Nov. 13.
Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj tweeted her condolences to Talati’s family.
“Indian Embassy in US has informed me of the circumstances leading to the death of Akash Talati, a US citizen of Indian origin,” tweeted Swaraj, following up with: “The deceased was shot by an assailant who was escorted out of his club. The security guard returned the fire and the assailant was also injured.”
“We are in touch with the family of the deceased and will provide them all help,” tweeted the minister.
Talati was originally from Anand, Gujarat, but moved to the U.S. about a decade ago.