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ECSO still looking for robbery suspect
0718 hotel armed robbery suspect
ECSO investigators are searching for this man, accused of attempting to rob a hotel last week. - photo by Photo provided by ECSO

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office continues to look for the man who attempted to rob a local hotel last week and was thwarted by the family who owns it.

The man forced his way into the Rincon Inn and Suites on Highway 21 South around 4 a.m. on July 10, according to the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office. Video surveillance footage showed the man carrying a pistol.

The suspect jumped over the front-desk counter and rummaged through drawers, apparently looking for money. He saw a camera and attempted to turn it off, according to the ECSO report.

The owners of the hotel also live there. Tejashkumar Patel told investigators he was asleep with his wife and their 3-year-old son when the intruder kicked open their bedroom door and demanded money.

However, Patel stood up to the would-be burglar and the two men got into a physical altercation. Patel’s father Navinbhai Patel heard the commotion from a nearby room and joined in.

The father and son were able to push the suspect out of the room and he ran away without stealing anything, according to investigators.

“He picked the wrong hotel,” said ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor. “The management wasn’t going to have it, and they took up for themselves.”

Ehsanipoor added that confronting an armed robber “is not something we typically recommend. Fortunately, there weren’t any injuries to innocent people.”

Investigators found the suspect’s gun lying on the office floor and determined it was made of plastic.

The man also left a trail of blood after sustaining undisclosed injuries during his struggle with the Patels.

“We have DNA from that and it is part of the investigation,” Ehsanipoor said.

The suspect is described as a tall, skinny black male with neck-length dreads. He wore black pants, a black shirt and yellow hat during the robbery, and his face was covered by a cloth.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the ECSO Criminal Investigations Division at 754-3449.

Although the Rincon Inn and Suites already had a security system in place, additional steps have been taken since the attempted robbery.

“New safety measures are in place to further enhance guest safety,” said assistant manager Jamie Marshall. “The security system is top-notch.”