- Usha Dilip Patel, 59, was shot in the chest and killed, while her husband, Dilip Ishvar Patel, was shot in the lower torso and is currently in stable condition in the hospital.
An Indian American couple, who owned a motel in Cecil County, Maryland were shot in a dispute over a room rental last week. Usha Dilip Patel, 59, was shot in the chest and killed on March 5 night at the New Eastern Motel in Elkton. Her husband, Dilip Ishvar Patel, was shot in the lower torso and is reportedly in stable condition at Christiana Hospital.
A few hours after the incident, police arrested a suspect, 26-year-old Hakeem Markel Evans of Newark, Delaware, at a nearby convenience store. Evans had been a guest at the motel for a couple of days. He is being held in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond.
According to a Elkton Police Department press release, Evans put a gun between a plexiglass partition separating him from the Patels and fired. Usha Patel was shot in the chest and Dilip Patel was shot in the hip before the gun apparently jammed. Evans, “originally believed to have returned to his room and barricaded himself inside, was later determined to have fled the area,” read the release, posted on the police department’s social media handles.
The Patels were married 40 years ago and moved to the U.S. 20 years ago, the Times of India reported. The couple worked several jobs to save money to buy their hotel, and they have two sons, Keyur and Kevin, Sarju Patel, a distant relative of the couple who lives in Bharthana, Gujarat, told the Times. “Their sons work with the couple at the motel,” Sarju said.
The Maryland incident is being touted as the latest example in a trend of violence toward hotel owners and Asian Americans. Trade magazine Asian Hospitality, says the Maryland incident resembles a August 2000 case in Cleveland, Mississippi, where a hotelier Yogesh Patel was beaten to death by a guest he had evicted from his hotel earlier in the day.
In a statement on the Maryland shooting, Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) president and CEO Cecil P. Staton said: “America’s hotel owners are shocked and outraged by this senseless act of violence against two small business owners doing their jobs. 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.” Adding that the violence is directly connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said: “The past year placed undue anxiety, pain, and uncertainty on our nation, yet hoteliers continue to welcome guests into their hotels and their communities. This crime compounds the anxieties hotel owners face. Every hotelier knows that something like this could happen to them at any time. Service to others defines the spirit of hospitality, and that is what makes a loss such as this so tragic.”
Similarly, in November 2017, Akash Talati, owner of a Knights Inn in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was killed in a shootout between an armed intruder and a security guard at a club Talati owned across the street from his Knights Inn. His wife, Mital Talati, took over operating the hotel and in 2018 received recognition and media attention for helping victims of Hurricane Florence.