KANSAS CITY — A 26-year-old Indian student from Telangana was shot dead in a restaurant in Missouri by a suspected robber.
Sharath Koppu, who was pursuing his master’s degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was shot July 6 evening around 7:00 p.m. at J's Fish and Chicken Market where he worked as a part-time employee, The Kansas City Star newspaper reported.
The Kansas City Police have released a brief video of the suspect inside the restaurant moments before the shooting and are asking for the community’s assistance in identifying him.
The suspect pulled out a gun and shot Koppu in his back. He died after being taken to a hospital.
Koppu, a software engineer, came to the U.S. in January.
UKMC issued a statement condoling Koppu's death.
"We offer our sincere sympathies to Sharath's family and friends in the wake of this senseless tragedy," the statement said.
UMKC’s Indian American Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, in his condolence message, said July 7: "Sharath and I share an Indian heritage, but all of us at UMKC share in the grief such tragedies bring.”
In India, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj July 8 expressed her condolences to Koppu’s family.
"My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family," Swaraj tweeted. "We will follow this up with the police and provide all assistance to the family."
The Telangana government has said it will arrange to bring Koppu’s body back to India.
Telangana's Minister for NRI Affairs K.T. Rama Rao, along with cabinet colleagues Kadiam Srihari and T. Srinivas Yadav, visited Koppu's house in Ameerpet, Hyderabad, July 8 and consoled family members.
Later, Rama Rao told reporters that the government would bear all expenses required to return Koppu’s body to Hyderabad within two days.
He said the state government was in touch with the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Embassy in the U.S.
The minister said if Koppu's family members wish to go to the U.S. to escort the body home, the government would make all necessary arrangements for their travel.
Koppu hailed from Warangal town and his family currently lives in Hyderabad. He was a software engineer and had traveled to the U.S. in January to pursue his master's degree.
The student's father, Ram Mohan, who works in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, and mother Malati were in a state of shock following news of his death July 7.
Raghu Chowdavaram, the victim's cousin, created a GoFundMe account July 7 to collect money to pay for the body to be returned to India.
It raised $25,000 in three hours.
"He had the same dreams like everyone else, to make it big in the land of opportunity. He had a great sense of humor and always made people laugh and was always eager to lend a helping hand," Chowdavaram wrote in the GoFundMe account.
A worker at the restaurant told The Kansas City Star that the suspect, wearing a brown shirt with white stripes, had demanded money and pulled out a gun.
As people hid or ran for cover around him, Koppu bolted directly away from the suspect, towards the back of the store.
"(Koppu) ran, so he shot him in the back," the worker said.
The incident comes one year after another Hyderabad tech worker, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed in a racially-motivated attack at a bar also in Kansas City Feb. 22, 2017.
In May, former U.S. Navy veteran Adam Purinton admitted that he fatally shot Kuchibhotla saying that he targeted the victim because of his "actual and perceived race, color, religion and national origin."