Indian American Hotelier in Connecticut Shot to Death in Argument over $10 Pool Pass
Zeshan Chaudhry, owner of the Motel 6 in Vernon, Connecticut, and co-president at Warraich & Sons Hospitality LLC. (LinkedIn photo)
VERNON, Conn. — A Connecticut Indian American motel owner was shot and killed after an argument over the price of a pass to use the motel’s swimming pool on a hot summer day.
Hotelier Zeshan Chaudhry, 30, of Vernon, was shot the afternoon of June 27 near the pool at the Motel 6 in Vernon after demanding $10 for a pool pass, police said.
The suspect, 31-year-old Alvin Waugh, of Hartford, had offered $5, police said.
“Mr. Chaudhry did not take the money,” police Sgt. Robert Marra told The Hartford Courant. “There was a verbal argument that ensued after that.”
Chaudhry told Waugh, who was staying at the motel with a friend, to leave, police said. But he instead went upstairs, retrieved a gun and came back down, Marra said.
“It sounds like the victim began to antagonize him,” Marra told the newspaper. “I don’t know if he knew that he had a gun.”
Chaudhry was shot several times and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Waugh ran into some nearby woods, but surrendered to police after being contacted on his cellphone.
He was being held in lieu of $2 million after his arraignment in Superior Court June 28 on charges including murder, criminal use of a weapon, use of a firearm for a felony, carrying a firearm without a permit, tampering with physical evidence, reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a minor.
Temperatures in the area hovered near 90 degrees on June 27.
India-West Staff Reporter adds: According to a report on nbcconnecticut.com, citing court documents, Vaugh and his girlfriend had been staying at the motel for about a month.
Waugh’s girlfriend told police she asked Chaudhry about using the pool and began arguing with him after he told her she would have to pay $10 for a pool pass, said the report.
Waugh joined the argument and at one point Chaudhry kicked the couple out of the motel and told the staff to lock them out of their room, according to the court documents.
That’s when Waugh left the pool area and went to his room, then returned with a gun and, after arguing with Chaudhry again, shot the motel owner several times, according to the arrest affidavit.
Asianhospitality.com quoted Ken Greene, interim AAHOA president and CEO, as saying in a statement that Chaudhry’s shooting is part of a tragic pattern.
Greene said there has been an increase in attacks against hoteliers and anti-Asian xenophobia during the pandemic.
“Hoteliers have already been through a very stressful year and a half dealing with the setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic. These types of crimes add another layer of unnecessary anxiety and stress. Every hotelier knows that something like this could happen to them at any time,” he said, according to the report.
The senseless shooting is the latest example of the danger hotel owners and employees face when simply trying to do their job, Sagar Shah, Reform Lodging president and co-founder, was quoted as saying.
“Hotel owners and their associates have been on the front lines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The ongoing, disastrous labor shortage means that owners stand toe to toe with their employees, lending a helping hand in daily operations, but also assuming greater risks. We are acutely aware that tragedies like this can occur to any of our organization’s members or other hoteliers across the country,” Shah added in the report.
The asianhospitality.com report noted that in March, Usha and Dilip Patel were shot in their Elkton, Maryland, hotel following an argument with a guest. Usha was killed and Dilip was hospitalized. Last August, Cleveland, Mississippi, hotelier Yogesh Patel was beaten to death by a guest he had had evicted from his hotel earlier in the day.