South Nashville restaurant owner Gitem Demissie, age 41, was fatally shot overnight as he was preparing to close his business.
Metro Police responded to Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant in the 2500 block of Murfreesboro Pike after midnight, early Sunday morning, where they discovered Demissie who had been shot multiple times.
First responders transported him to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
“We were really broken,” said Father Mesfin Tesemma, who leads the Ethiopian church where Demissie was an active member. “We didn’t expect this to happen to him. He doesn’t deserve to die like this. He is a very nice person.”
Tesemma said Demissie was a hard-working businessman who was well-known in the area. Tesemma said he sometimes put in 16 or 17 hours a day at his businesses.
Demissie had lived in Nashville for more than ten years. He first opened Ibex Mart on Bell Road, selling Ethiopian groceries, including spices, fresh meat, and vegetables.
According to Tesemma, Ibex Mart was the only Ethiopian grocery store in Nashville, meaning a lot of people knew Demissie and relied on his business.
In January 2015, Demissie opened a second business, the restaurant and bar, where he was shot and killed early Sunday morning.
Friends said Demissie had been working hard to sell his bar in hopes of taking time to travel home to Ethiopia to see his parents. His death has left many in the Ethiopian community fearing for their safety.
“What happened to him means a lot for everybody. So are we safe here?” Tesemma said. “Those are the kinds of questions it raises in the minds of a lot of Ethiopians.”
Detectives remained on scene until sunrise collecting interviews and evidence.
The shooter was described as a masked gunman wearing a black long sleeve shirt and black jeans. A witness said the suspect went up to Demissie, shot him multiple times, and fled from the building. The witness added the man had light skin and a thin build, and he stood around 5’7’’ tall.
Anyone with information on this fatal shooting has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463.