A statement appearing to be from managers of the Economy Inn that was sent to Times Free Press news partner WRCB-TV Channel 3 today states the owners had no idea the business would be shuttered on Wednesday.
The message is addressed to "Fellow Citizens" and contains no contact or information about the author except for a small letterhead with the name and address of the now-condemned hotel.
"I have been banned from my property, my business has been shut down and I was personally treated like a criminal and threatened with arrest by police if I went on my property for no reason whatsoever — all on the day that I was first given notice of any alleged problems," the letter states.
"On the same day, the police cleaned out our safe and took all the money from the cash register refusing to even let us into our office and lobby to get any records. Guests were forcibly removed and my business stands empty."
The Times Free Press previously reported that Economy Inn, owned by Lookout Mountain Suites LLC, according to online property records, was closed Wednesday as a result of a petition for abatement of nuisance filed in Criminal Court by Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston. Pinkston's office stated in the petition that "the motel is the site of a disproportionate amount of illegal activity."
"Between October 12, 2015 and December 31, 2017, officers from the Chattanooga Police Department have responded to the motel for over 800 calls for service," the petition states.
In the statement, the owner stated the former residents of Economy Inn "are the poorest and most vulnerable of our population," and that hotel staff work to keep people from being homeless."
The owner also confirmed representatives of the hotel will appear before Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz on Monday "to combat the allegations of the authorities."