An Indian American businessman was killed Aug. 11 evening at his motel in Cleveland, Mississippi, allegedly by a hotel guest who repeatedly struck him with a bottle after being asked to leave the premises.
According to a report issued by the Cleveland Police Department, Yogesh Ishwarbhai Patel, 45, owner of the Delta Inn, had an altercation with a resident, Kentarrus Williams, over damage to a room door, and — under the watch of police officers — had him evicted from the premises, after refunding him for the days remaining in his hotel stay. Once Williams left, police officers also left.
A short while later, Williams returned, on the guise of picking up some of his belongings. Patel told Williams he had to leave the premises.
Three witnesses — including Sonam Patel, the victim’s wife and co-owner of the property — later reported to police that when Williams returned, he began attacking Patel with a one-liter gin bottle. As Williams ran off the property, one witness, Lareiko Love, went to go help Patel, who was bleeding from his head and face.
Cleveland Police Officer B. Moorman arrived at the scene and found the badly-wounded Patel. The victim was air-lifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jacksonville, Mississippi, where he died the following afternoon.
The following day, officers were dispatched back to the hotel based on a phone call about an altercation in the parking lot. Arriving at the scene, officers found no evidence of a fight. Moorman looked up where the call was coming from and found that it was the nearby Rodeway Inn. Moorman wrote in the police report that the voice on the call sounded like that of Williams. He went to the hotel, and described Williams to the desk clerk, who told the officer the suspect had checked in.
Williams was arrested at the Rodeway Inn. He has been charged with homicide, according to the police report, and is being held on bail of $500,000. Williams had not been arraigned as of press time Aug. 18.
Reform Lodging, an advocacy group for 1,500 business people in the hotel and motel industry, sent a letter Aug. 15 to Cleveland District Attorney Brenda Mitchell, Police Chief Charles Bingham, and Senior Sheriff Kelvin Williams requesting an expedited investigation of the case. The letter was signed by Reform Lodging co-founders Rich Gandhi, Sagar Shah, and Dharam Goragandhi.
“We are absolutely appalled at this heinous criminal act and condemn it in the strongest possible sense. Our group seeks justice for Mr. Patel and trust that your investigations lead to the immediate apprehension of this
dangerous criminal,” said Gandhi, Shah, and Goragandhi in their letter.
“It is our collective hope that this suspect is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and that all legal avenues are considered for justice to be swiftly and appropriately served.”
The writers noted that Patel and his family had close ties to the community. “We remain available to assist your investigation in any way possible and will fully support all of your efforts. We plead with you to bring peace of mind to Mr. Patel’s family expeditiously,” they wrote.
Cecil Staton, president and CEO of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, issued a statement Aug. 18 on behalf of the organization, which has more than 20,000 members.
“America's hotel owners are saddened by the sudden and senseless loss of a fellow hotelier and member of the community. Violence has no place in our society, especially at hotels which offer guests comfort and security,” wrote Staton.
“This crime has deeply impacted our industry and our members who feel that this could happen to them at any time. No one should live in fear just for doing their job. The hardworking men and women who are America's hotel owners understand that there is no higher calling than service to others, and that is what makes this loss so tragic,” he wrote.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Patel's family and employees and hope they will find justice,” wrote Staton.