Police close hotels: Guests vacated from Alcoa Highway motel complex
By J.J. Kindred | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Charles Quillen, who was staying with his family at the Royal Extended Stay that is part of the Days Inn/Budget Inn complex at 2962 Alcoa Highway, was surprised by a knock on the door Thursday morning.
“We were all asleep, but one of us was up,” Quillen said. “We heard a knock on the door, and I got dressed. I went to the door and talked to some police officers, and they said I had until 5 o’clock to get out because they were closing the place down temporarily.”
Quillen and his family had to leave because the city of Alcoa had filed an abatement of nuisance petition with Blount County Circuit Court Thursday, causing the property to temporarily shut down, according to a city press release.
City officials are seeking to stop the use of the property, owned by Mani Associates of Hermitage, a suburb of Nashville, with the sole general partners being the property managers Jagubhai V. Patel and Bhagu V. Hira.
According to the petition, the hotels are an “establishment where illegal drugs and quarreling, fights and breaches of the peace are rampant among its patrons and visitors, with full knowledge and approval of the owners and managers of the property and hotels.”
“We’ve been working going back five years on the statistics,” said Alcoa Police Capt. Phillip Dunn. “We’ve been out here constantly dealing with issues. It took an extensive amount of time and effort to build a catalog and documentation to build a case.”
Quillen, who came with his family of four from Monroe County, was staying at the Extended Stay temporarily while they were searching for a new home.
“It’s pretty upsetting,” Quillen said. “I’m paid up until Monday, but we’ll make it. Life gets hard sometimes, but we’ll make it through somehow. If we can afford a room somewhere else, we can do that, I hope.”
755 E-911 calls
Between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2012, the Alcoa Police Department received 755 calls from the Blount County E-911 dispatch for problems at the hotels.
Quarreling, fighting and breaches of the peace on the property resulted in 36 reports of assault, 44 for domestic disturbance and another 190 for some other type of public disturbance.
There have been 90 calls related to drunkenness, whether from intoxicating liquor or other drugs, and 19 calls related to drug possession or sales.
There were 83 calls for welfare checks, many of which included checks on hotel guests suspected of overdosing on drugs or attempting suicide or requesting welfare checks of juveniles on the property. There were three calls reporting possible rapes. There have been 74 calls reporting thefts.
Alcoa police prepared 214 criminal reports resulting in 159 arrests arising from illegal activities on the property between 2007 and 2012.
There have been 14 incidents reporting juveniles on the scene, with one child abuse case. Officers have reported two dead people and three attempted suicides on the property. They also recovered stolen property on five occasions, including one stolen vehicle.
On numerous occasions, the rooms were found to openly contain illegal drugs, syringes and other drug paraphernalia. Of the criminal reports taken by Alcoa police, none were reported by the hotels’ management, despite being on notice to do so, but generated by Alcoa police officers on the scene or by patrons of the hotels, officials said.
Dunn said Patel and Hira are in Nashville and out of the country. He was not certain which owner was where, but said the one in Nashville was served with court documents Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, construction workers were working most of the day boarding up windows at the complex.
“We’re going through a catalog of everything in the rooms,” Dunn said. “Everyone’s contents are safe and we know exactly what is in each room. We’re boarding up everything on the bottom floor, including the stairways, so it will be safe. It’s still too early in the process to know what’s been found out of the ordinary.”
A court hearing will be scheduled at some point next week to determine the complex’s fate. “It will be determined with the (Circuit Court) clerk’s office as to when it is, and the city will have to present its case to the judge and they will have to make a determination,” Dunn said.
A man who was not identified was helping his disabled sister, an apparent resident at the Royal Extended Stay, to his vehicle. He had just found out that his sister and other residents would have to be out by 5 p.m. Thursday.
“This is (expletive),” the man said. “I wasn’t aware of what happened. I just got off work.”
So where will his sister go?
“That’s a good question,” she said.
Dunn said any guest or resident who has a vehicle parked at the complex should contact the police department so arrangements can be made to pick them up.