The Kansas Police announced a reward of $10,000 for providing information about the suspect in the murder of an Indian student from Telangana during a suspected attempted robbery in a restaurant on Friday.
The police also released cctv footage on their Twitter handle of the murder suspect.
“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),” the Police tweeted.
Sharath Koppu was shot by unidentified persons at J’s Fish and Chicken Market on Prospect Avenue on Friday evening, Capt Lionel Colon of the local police department told The Kansas City Star.
“We immediately rendered aid in regard to the injuries. Once the fire department arrived, they transported him to a nearby hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased,” Colon said, adding nobody was in custody for the crime.
Two witnesses, who were in a nearby motel, were quoted by The Kansas City Star as saying they had heard five shots coming from the direction of the restaurant. By the time they stepped outside, those involved in the shooting had fled. There was no immediate information on whether one or more assailants were involved.
Koppu hailed from Warangal district and was pursuing his masters in software engineering at the University of Missouri. He was said to be working part-time at the restaurant in Kansas City.
Another police officer investigating the crime said it was believe to be a case of “attempted robbery” and hate crime was not being suspected as of now. Police refused to discuss details, saying it was an active investigation and releasing information could jeopardise the case.
Koppu’s death was confirmed by the official Twitter handle of the Indian consulate in Chicago. “Deepest condolences to the family of K Sharat who was victim of a shooting in Kansas City Missouri. Consulate officials are on the way. We will provide all assistance,” it tweeted.
Koppu’s father Rammohan Koppu, an employee of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited in Hyderabad, told the media he had learnt on Saturday morning that his son was wounded in a shooting.
“We were told some miscreants entered the restaurant and started shooting. Two of my son’s friends escaped the bullets. My son tried to run away and they shot him from behind,” he said.
Rammohan said his son had graduated in software engineering from Vasavi Engineering College in Hyderabad and moved to the US in January. “While pursuing his studies, he was also working part-time in a restaurant there,” he said.
Rammohan, his wife Malathi and other relatives met Telangana police chief M Mahender Reddy on Saturday night and sought his help to find out details of the incident. They also wrote to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Telangana IT minister KT Rama Rao, seeking their help.
“Last night, we got to know that he was brutally killed by gunshots fired by unknown people around 8 pm (USA time). This is a very sad day for all of us,” the victim’s cousin, Sandeep Vemulakonda told ANI.
Sandeep urged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to look into the matter and nab the culprit.
He also requested the Indian Embassy in the USA to send Sharath’s body to Hyderabad for the last rites.
The shooting raised concerns if this was another case related to hate crime. Kansas City in Missouri state is roughly half-an-hour’s drive from Olathe in Kansas state, where Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead on February 22, 2017 by a man yelling racial slurs.
Adam Purinton, the 51-year-old man convicted of Kuchibhotla’s murder, was sentenced to life in prison on May 5 this year.
(With ANI inputs)