Telangana student shot in US, family seeks MEA’s help to bring body homehttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/telangana-student-shot-dead-in-us-mea-sushma-swaraj-5250523/

Telangana student shot in US, family seeks MEA’s help to bring body home

Hailing from Warangal town, Koppula had completed his engineering and also worked at a software firm in Hyderabad. He had shifted to the US to pursue MS this year.

Sharath Koppula, a student at University of Missouri, was was critically injured after a man opened fire at him. (Facebook)
Sharath Koppula, a student at University of Missouri, was was critically injured after a man opened fire at him. (Facebook)

A 26-year-old student from Telangana was shot at a restaurant in Kansas City in the US state of Missouri Friday night, Friday night, not far from where software engineer Srinivas Kutchibotla was killed last year.

Sharath Koppula, a student at University of Missouri, was critically injured after a man opened fire at him at J’s Fish and Chicken Market near 54th and Prospect, where he worked as a part-time employee. Koppula’s friends said doctors declared him brought dead.

“Late Saturday night, his friends called and confirmed that it was our Sarath (who was shot) and he died while being rushed to the hospital,” Koppula’s father Ram Mohan, who works at BSNL, said.

Confirming the incident, the Indian Consulate General of India in Chicago tweeted, “An Indian student became victim of shooting in Kansas City, Missouri. We r in contact with his family & police. We will provide all assistance. Our officers are also on the way to Kansas City. @SushmaSwaraj @IndianDiplomacy @NavtejSarna @India in USA.”

An employee told local newspaper The Kansas City Star that the suspect was wearing a brown shirt with white stripes. In a case of a suspected robbery attempt, the man pulled out a gun and demanded money. As people hid or ran for cover, Koppu bolted towards the back of the restaurant. “(Koppu) ran, so he shot him in the back,” the worker said.

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The identity of the killer, as well as the motive behind the act, are still unknown. Police have released a brief CCTV footage of the suspect inside the restaurant moments before the shooting and have asked for the community’s assistance in identifying him.

Announcing a reward of USD 10,000 for information leading to the suspect, Kansas City Police tweeted, “Looking for this suspect in the robbery & murder of 25-y.o. Sharath Kopuu at 5412 Prospect last night. Sharath was from India and is a student at UMKC. $10,000 reward for info leading to charges in this (& every KCMO murder).”

Hailing from Warangal town, Koppula had shifted to Kansas early this year to pursue his Masters in Computer Science. He had passed B.Tech from Vasavi College of Engineering in 2014 and later worked as an associate software engineer at Pegasystems Worldwide India Ltd in Hyderabad. He quit his job last year to prepare for further studies in the US.

His father has sought help from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Telangana’s NRI Minister K.T. Rama Rao to bring the body home. Swaraj later tweeted, “Kansas incident – My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. We will follow this up with the Police and provide all assistance to the family.”

The consulate, on the other hand, said it will provide all assistance to the deceased’s family. “Deepest condolences to the family of Sharat who was a victim of shooting in Kansas city. Consulate officials are on the way. We will provide all assistance and help to family,” it tweeted.

Meanwhile, Koppula’s cousin Raghu Chowdavaram created a GoFundMe account and collected $25,000 in three hours on Saturday to pay for the body to be returned to India.

“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,” Chowdavaram wrote in the GoFundMe account.

In a statement, University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC) said, “We offer our sincere sympathies to Sharath’s family and friends in the wake of this senseless tragedy.”

UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal also offered his own condolences in a tweet. “Sharath and I share an Indian heritage, but all of us at UMKC share in the grief such tragedies bring,” Agrawal wrote.

(With agency inputs)