Update: Details emerge in Alhamraa homicide

A Charlottesville police investigator enters Alhamraa restaurant on Saturday morning, May 10. Photo: Courteney Stuart A Charlottesville police investigator enters Alhamraa restaurant on Saturday morning, May 10. Photo: Courteney Stuart

A homicide that occurred in the wee hours of Saturday morning at Alhamraa Moroccan restaurant in downtown Charlottesville took place as the business was unusually full of patrons celebrating multiple birthday parties at the restaurant, according to Ix property developer Ludwig Kuttner, in a prepared statement.

Kuttner expresses “great sorrow” for the family of the victim, whose identity has not yet been released by police and who succumbed to a chest wound of an undisclosed nature,  and he describes the evening as a weekly after-hours hip-hop party that typically draws 50-60 patrons. “I personally stopped by one of these parties recently,” said Kuttner, who described the attendees on the night he visited as “courteous, inviting, and respectful.” At last night’s event, Kuttner writes, the number of attendees was “much larger” and an argument broke out between a small group of people.

Karim Sellam, the owner of Alhamraa and Al Dente, the Italian restaurant located next door at Ix, expressed his condolences and his shock in the statement. “I’ve never had a problem like this before,” said Sellam, who opened Alhamraa at Ix in 20008. ” I’m devastated that something like this could happen in my restaurant.  I’m sorry for the family of the young man who was killed, and I’m sorry that such a happy event turned to tragedy.”

The Ix complex is home to numerous local businesses including Portico Church, the Newsplex television stations, Computer 4Kids, and Lutheran Family Services. It’s also the site of an emerging Ix Art Park, which recently raised more than $20,000 through a Kickstarter campaign and has hosted several parties and performances in recently weeks.

The Art Park’s organizer, Brian Wimer, said he and others will recognize the tragedy as part of an already planned event on Sunday May 18, by planting a memorial among new art pieces and picnic tables that are being painted and installed.

“Perhaps more than any other process, art has the inherent capacity to contemplate tragedy and creatively reflect it with a positive suggestion of the possibilities, opportunities and hopes of a better future,” he said.

Police are asking anyone with information about the homicide to contact Detective Woodzell at 970-3280 or Crimestoppers at 977-4000.

Updated Saturday, 5:51pm. An earlier version of this story described the injury as a gunshot wound, however, authorities have not disclosed the nature of the injury. 

Original headline: Breaking: Homicide at Alhamraa restaurant