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Heartbroken family seeks answers after business owner shot and killed inside Louisville store

Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 12:28 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 12:47 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The family of a man who was shot and killed inside his liquor store wants answers. Dimtsu Haileselassie, 62, was inside his store on the corner of Taylor Boulevard and Arcade Avenue around 11:45 a.m. Monday when he was shot and killed.

His family told WAVE 3 News they are still trying to come to grips with what happened.

“It’s unbelievable, unfathomable,” Hilena Haileselassie, the victim’s niece, said. “It feels like we’re talking about someone else.”

Family members said Dimtsu Haileselassie was a family man and one who loved people.

“He was incredible, loving, giving, strong, unique, funny, amazing,” Hilena Haileselassie said. “A friend to you if you’ve met him like he’s known you forever. He was amazing.”

His nephew, Amanuen Gebremariam, said he was known for helping people.

“Sometimes [customers] are short on money and we kind of help them out,” Gebremariam said. “Sometimes they pay the next day or they forget it. [Dimtsu] was very decent. He was dealing with them in a very kind way. He was a very humble guy.”

Family members said it was devastating to hear what happened to him and confusing.

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Louisville Metro police say an employee was shot to death June 7, 2021 inside a liquor Store at...
Louisville Metro police say an employee was shot to death June 7, 2021 inside a liquor Store at the corner of Taylor Blvd. and Arcade Ave.(Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)

“He was a very kind guy, and I would not imagine he would argue with any guy who tried to rob him,” Gebremariam said. “We sometimes talked about situations like this and he was very ready to give them what they want as long as they let him go.”

LMPD said there was some type of struggle when Dimtsu Haileselassie was killed, but family members told WAVE 3 News that doesn’t make a lot of sense to them.

“The thought that someone on a Monday morning could come in and shoot this man who was our everything, and to them, it was just another senseless gun crime, it’s unbelievable,” Hilena Haileselassie said. “Our family is mourning, not just locally, but internationally.”

Dimtsu Haileselassie was a refugee from the Ethiopian region of Tigray. He lived in Atlanta for several years, where his family said he started a church and a community center.

“Our uncle was the epitome of the American dream,” Hilena Haileselassie said. “When you think about a refugee who worked his way up and brought everyone else along with him.”

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Dimtsu Haileselassie, 62, was shot and killed inside the liquor store he owned on Monday....
Dimtsu Haileselassie, 62, was shot and killed inside the liquor store he owned on Monday. Police are still looking for who is responsible.(Haileselassie Family)

Gebremariam said it has been difficult to call family abroad to tell them the news.

“In our culture, somebody has to be next to you to tell the grief like this one,” Gebremariam said. “In this case though, people are everywhere and in some cases you have to just make a phone call, bypassing that culture, and just let them know they lost their loved one.”

Two years ago, Dimtsu moved to Louisville to run the liquor store and has been helping other Ethiopian refugees from the Tigray region establish a community.

“Anytime I have a question, I come here and ask for advice,” Adam Nugusa, Dimtsu’s friend, told WAVE 3 News. “As a community leader in our Tigrayan community in Kentucky, [Dimtsu] had a big experience in Atlanta to form a community in Atlanta, to form a church in Atlanta. And based on his experiences, he was helping us establish our community. He was our adviser. He was a man that he can ask him and he tells you wisely, and nicely without making anybody angry. I don’t believe this man is already gone. It is a big devastation to the people to the Tigrayan community here.”

Police released two images of who they believe is the man suspected in the shooting.

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We're asking for the public's assistance in identifying this individual, a suspect in a homicide that occurred Monday...

Posted by Louisville Metro Police Department on Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The family said they just would like answers and are asking for the community’s help to identify the man police are looking for.

“If you know who this perpetrator is, and you’ve been to the store and you know the kindness of [Dimtsu] who is now fallen, then it’s incumbent upon you to turn this man in,” Hilena Haileselassie said. “Please do your best to bring this man to justice. This is not going to be another senseless crime that happened on this street. That’s our uncle. That’s our everything.”

Funeral arrangements are still pending.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the police at (502) 574-LMPD.

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