In a tragic incident, a 26-year-old student from Telangana was shot dead by an unidentified person at a restaurant in Kansas City in the US state of Missouri.
Sharath Koppula, who was studying in University of Missouri, Kansas City, was critically injured when the man fired at him at J's Fish and Chicken Market located at 5412 Prospect Ave in the city. He was rushed to a hospital, where he succumbed.
His friends informed his family over phone on Saturday that the incident occurred on Friday evening (US time).
The identity of the killer, motive behind the killing and other details were not known, but the police suspect that it was a robbery attempt.
Sharath hailed from Warangal town. After completing his engineering at the Vasavi College of Engineering in Hyderabad, he was employed at a software firm in the city. He moved to the US to do MS this year.
Sharath's father Ram Mohan, who is employed in BSNL, has appealed to Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Telangana's NRI Minister K.T. Rama Rao to help in bringing the body home.
The Twitter handle of the Consulate General of India in Chicago expressed condolences and said, “Consulate officials are on the way. We will provide all assistance.”
The University of Missouri, Kansas City also released a statement, which said:
"We are deeply saddened that Sharath Koppu, a graduate student in Computer Science at UMKC, was killed last evening during an armed robbery at a restaurant where he was assisting family friends. Sharath was an international student and his family in India has been notified. We offer our sincere sympathies to Sharath’s family and friends in the wake of this senseless tragedy. Our campus leadership is reaching out to Sharath’s family and friends and we are making counseling services available to members of our university community."
The Kansas City police published visuals of the suspect and said that there was a reward of $10,000 for information leading to charges in this case and every other murder under their jurisdiction.
The suspect was seen in a brown and while shirt and the police zeroed in on him after taking statements from eye witnesses.
Meanwhile, a man claiming to be Sharath’s cousin, Raghavender Chowdavaram, has started a GoFundMe page, which raised $43,471 against the $40,000 goal within a span of 9 hours.
“Sharath is known to his family and friends as full of dreams, cheerful, energetic and athletic. In the pursuit of his dreams, he moved to USA to do his Masters. He had the same dreams like everyone else to make it big in the land of opportunity. He had a great sense of humour and always made people laugh and was always eager to lend a helping hand,” Raghavender wrote.
“Sharath will be missed not only by his family, but by everyone whose life he touched. Sharath's body is being sent to India for cremation. As a co-human being, we cannot end the pain caused to his family but can share the grievance and extend our support to ease the financial burden because of his sudden death. The funds collected will be used to help Sharath's body reach India safely for last rites,” he added.
In February last year, 27-year-old Indian software engineer Vamshi Reddy Mamidala, who hailed from Vangapahad village in Warangal district, was also shot dead during a robbery attempt in the US.
The techie was shot dead by an alleged drug addict in Milpitas, California on February 10, in the garage of his apartment building. The drug addict was trying to flee after robbing a woman.
Police later arrested the accused, identified as 30-year-old Stuart Baronngaue.
Sharath’s death also comes a year after another Indian techie from Hyderabad, Srinivas Kuchibhotla (32), was killed at a bar in Kansas City in a racially motivated hate crime.
A US Navy veteran, Adam W. Purinton, shot Srinivas Kuchibhotla dead on February 22, 2017, after shouting "get out of my country'. In May this year, he was sentenced to life.