Police: Guest fatally shot one Elkton motel owner, wounded another

Ushaben Patel was killed and her husband Dilipbhai Ptel was injured at the New Eastern Inn in Elkton, which they owned.

ELKTON — A Delaware man is in custody on murder charges after he allegedly opened fire on the married owners of an Elkton motel in the lobby of their establishment on Friday night, March 5 — killing the woman and critically wounding her husband, according to police and Cecil County District Court records.

Investigators identified the suspect as 26-year-old Hakeem M. Evans, a Newark, Del. resident who was a guest at the New Eastern Inn at 291 E. Pulaski Highway (state Route 40). Evans allegedly fatally shot Ushaben Patel, 59, and critically wounded her husband, Dilipbhai Patel, also 59, through a glass partition in the office lobby.

Evans is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony or a crime of violence and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to court records. His preliminary hearing is set for April 2, court records show.

Lt. Lawrence Waldridge of the Elkton Police Department said EPD investigators arrested Evans, who had fled from the scene, at the nearby Royal Farms store at 1199 E. Pulaski Highway in Elkton without incident shortly after the shootings. Before making the arrest, an officer had spoken to Evans on the phone with the assistance of Evans’ mother, Waldridge said.

EPD Det. Joshua Leffew is listed as the arresting officer in court records.

After receiving a report of a shooting, EPD officers responded to the motel at approximately 9 p.m. Friday and found Ushaben Patel dead in a residential area behind the lobby office, according to charging documents, which show that she had suffered a gunshot wound to her chest.

Dilipbhai Patel had suffered a gunshot wound to his hip, police said. An ambulance crew took him from the motel to Christiana Hospital in Delaware, where his condition was listed as stable the following day, after arriving there in critical condition, police said. 

A funeral service was held for Ushaben Patel on Wednesday, March 10. Her husband was able to attend. Ushaben and Dilipbhai Patel owned and operated the motel for more than 30 years, ever since it was built.

Surveillance cameras videotaped the shootings, court records show. EPD investigators were able to determine that the shooter seen in that footage was Evans, the same man who had rented Room 206 at that motel at some point before the incident, police said. Charging documents indicate that EPD officers also were able to speak with witnesses.

“The video showed Evans at the partition, speaking with management, and he seemed to be arguing for a short period of time with management, before he puts a handgun through the glass hole of the partition and shoots what appears to be three rounds at the victims before the firearm appears to jam,” court records allege.

Waldridge said there was a dispute over the room Evans was staying in.

After his gun apparently jammed, according to charging documents, Evans ran back to Room 206 and then fled from the motel in a vehicle, which was occupied by another person who is not identified in court records.

Because of a previous felony conviction, Evans is prohibited from possessing a firearm, court records allege.

Evans remains held in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond, according to court records.

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