Indian American motel owner Pravin Patel shot to death by man who wanted a room

Pravin Raojibhai Patel (1947-2024). PHOTO:

The community of Sheffield, Alabama, is mourning the death of 76 year old Indian American hotel owner/operator, Pravin Raojibhai Patel who was shot dead February 8, 2024, by a customer who wanted to book a room.

“America’s hotel owners are deeply saddened, shocked, and outraged by this senseless act of violence against a small business owner that cost him his life,” said a statement from the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, AAHOA, the largest trade body for hoteliers made up mostly of Indian-origin hoteliers.

Sheffield Police Chief Ricky Terry told media the 34-year-old suspect, William Jeremy Moore, was arrested and is now in custody after he shot Patel, the owner of the Hillcrest Motel. The news outlet, reported Feb. 8, Police Chief Terry saying Moore was arrested after a police pursuit as he was trying to break into an abandoned house. The shooting also led to a temporary lock down of local schools.

On the morning of February 8, Moore reportedly got into an altercation with Patel when he wanted to rent a room at the motel.

The AAHOA statement notes that court documents cited by a local TV station showed that a felony complaint filed in the case said Patel tried to get Moore to leave the premises before the shooting occurred.

“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.”

AAHOA Alabama Regional Director Sanjay M. Patel said Pravin Patel spent more than four decades in the town of Sheffield, owning and operating the same motel.

“He was a very family-oriented person, jolly, and a keen businessman,” Sanjay M. Patel said.

“Everyone in town knew him as a familiar face in the community after being there 40-plus years, and the family was well-known in the community for being genuine and caring.”

“The loss of a loved one under such circumstances is an unimaginable tragedy that no family should ever have to endure,” said AAHOA President & CEO Laura Lee Blake. “As a long-standing businessman in his community, Pravin was known for his kindness and his beautiful family. We pray for great comfort and strength during this impossibly difficult time for those who knew and loved him, and for his legacy of service and hospitality to continue for many generations to come.”

The organization expressed confidence “that Alabama authorities will help the Patel family find justice.”

Pravin R. Patel was born October 12, 1947, according to his family’s obituary on the Morrison Funeral Homes website. The funeral was held Feb. 12, and a video on the service was posted on the site which shows friends, family members and well-wishers in attendance, and tributes being paid to Pravin R. Patel by several individuals in Gujarati as hymns played in the background.

On the funeral home website, it shows several families and individuals not of Indian origin, who presented bouquets to the family of the deceased, and also some tributes.

“Mr. Patel was such a nice, warm gentleman. I knew him for many years as he owned one of the motels in our area. 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. Thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Pravin Patel. Sincerely, Susann Hamlin, President, Colbert County Tourism Office, Tuscumbia, AL, posted on Feb. 9.  

According to the funeral home website, Pravin R. Patel is survived by his wife, Renukaben Patel; children, Nital Patel (Sandeep) and Nirmal Patel (Jeenal); brothers, Harshad Patel, Indravaden Patel, and Harendra Patel; sister, Manju Patel; and grandchildren, Jaiden Patel, Myya Patel, Leeya Patel, and Ariyana Patel.



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