ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — A Facebook video has gone viral after it showed a homeless man getting kicked out of a Roanoke hotel Thursday afternoon.
Gwendolyn Carswell saw a homeless man while driving through downtown Roanoke that day.
“I went up to him after I parked, and I asked him, ‘Hey, can I buy you something to eat?'” said Carswell.
The free meal was soon followed by a search for a room at a local hotel, after she learned the man didn’t have a place to stay. The Rescue Mission and RAM House were packed with visitors due to the winter storm.
“I said, ‘Hey the [Rescue Mission]?’ He was like ‘no, they’re [over capacity],'” Carswell said.
She soon found a room at the Econo Lodge Civic Center in Roanoke, and signed the registration form under her name.
“Now, I told a little white lie,” said Carswell, “and I told them it’s going to be for me. One person.”
Less than an hour later, Roanoke Police were on scene asking the man to leave.
A spokesperson for the department released the following statement:
On February 18, 2021 at approximately 3:45 p.m., Roanoke Police responded to a call for service at a business in the 300 block of Orange Avenue NE. Responding officers were advised by management that a person was inside the business, management asked the person to leave and the involved parties were not leaving. Officers verbally deescalated the situation, spoke to the involved parties and suggested alternative locations for the individual to go. At that point, the involved parties left the business.Caitlyn Cline, Public Information Officer, Roanoke Police Department
Carswell says she was just trying to do the right thing.
“I cried and I was hysterical. Because I’m like ‘Yo, this is our people,” Carswell said.
WFXR News reached out to hotel management.
“I verbally explained to her we don’t allow visitors of any kind,” said Bhavik Patek, Manager at the Econo Lodge Civic Center.
Patel says Carswell didn’t clarify who was staying in the room. The hotel has a strict “no visitor” policy for the safety of guests and staff.
“There was a gentleman in there. Up until this point, we had no knowledge of that person supposed to be here,” said Patel, “because she never clarified.”
Patel points out a local church recently booked a room for a homeless person, who was able to stay for three days.
“Do you know what the difference between that scenario and this one is? The people who rented the room disclosed the information, ‘this person is going to be staying. We just want to help.'”
Carswell says she’s still frustrated, and says the situation could have been handled better.
“Management could have been a little bit more generous or concerned.”
The homeless man was able to stay at another hotel later that day.
Carswell was also able to get all of her money back from management at the Econo Lodge Civic Center.