Ethiopian Community Ask for Public's Help to Arrest Gitem Demissie's Killer
Friends of an Ethiopian restaurant owner are asking for the public’s help to find the man who killed him one month ago Wednesday. Gitem Demissie, 41, was shot and killed inside Ibex Ethiopian Bar and Restaurant in the 2500 block of Murfreesboro Pike on March 19.
One other person was in the restaurant when the murder happened but was unharmed.
Surveillance video of the attack shows a man lurking outside the business for about three to five minutes before walking into the bar and opening fire on Demissie. He shot the owner multiple times and left through the front door.
The witness told police the man did not say anything during the shooting. He described the killer as a slender man, light-skinned and about 5 feet 7 inches tall. The witness could not tell police the killers’ race.
“I hope the killer will be found one way or another and justice will be served,” friend Yirga Alem Bellchew told News 2. “When something like this happens, we question ourselves and ask what we can do.”
Bellchew immigrated to the United States 40 years ago and is a well-respected member of the close knit Ethiopian community of Nashville.
Many people call her “mother” or “sister” because of her welcoming and nurturing nature.
Bellchew said she met Demissie at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church where he worshipped.
“The community is disturbed, especially our children,” Father Mesfin Tesemma said. “I did not expect them to be as concerned, but they are horrified that something might happen one day.”
Metro police have interviewed multiple people within the Ethiopian community, including Demissie’s business partner, Ashenafe Atlaw.
“We were doing well,” Atlaw said. “With the help of God, we progressed.”
He continued, “We were working hard to make our lives better seven days a week 24 hours a day.”
Detectives have had a lot of cooperation from the Ethiopian community, but they have not been able to give the information police need to figure out who killed Demissie.
“I can’t find anyone who can definitively say anything bad about the victim,” Detective Derry Baltimore said. “What I am getting from the community was he was hard working, respected, and very religious.”
He continued, “He did right by people, went to work and did his job.”
The Ethiopian community has taken on the mission of seeking justice for Desmissie. His family is still in Ethiopia and heartbroken, according to friends.
“Losing Gitem is like our brother,” Tewodros Manaye said. “It is like losing a family member, and that leaves everybody in distress.”