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Student from Telangana shot dead in US restaurant

Sharath Koppu was studying in University of Missouri, Kansas City, and worked at the restaurant where the incident occurred; police say motive appeared to be armed robbery, have released surveillance video of the suspected shooter

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Sharath Koppu, a 25-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 Koppu was studying in University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), and worked at the restaurant where the incident occurred around 7 pm on Friday (US time). His friends informed his family in Warangal over phone on Saturday.

He had moved to the United States earlier this year.

While the identity of the killer is not known yet, the police have said the motive appeared to be robbery. The police have launched a hunt to nab the suspect.

Sharath was working at the restaurant, J’s Fish and Chicken Market, when he was shot. According to reports, the police found him in a critically injured state, lying in a pool of blood, and rushed him to hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

Quoting witnesses, an NDTV report said while others at the restaurant ducked behind the counter seeing the armed man, Sharath tried to run and was shot in the back.

The police have released a surveillance video of the shooter seen in a brown and white striped shirt. Posting a tweet, they asked anyone with information to call on 816-234-5043 or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477. The police are offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to charges in the murder.

Local media reported that people in the vicinity heard five gunshots coming from the direction of the restaurant.

Sharath, a software engineer from Warangal town, was working at a firm in Hyderabad before he moved to the US to do an MS this year.

Sharath’s father Ram Mohan, who works with BSNL, has appealed to Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Telangana’s NRI Minister KT Rama Rao to help in bringing the body home.

Raghu Chowdavaram, Sharath’s cousin, has set up campaign on a crowdfunding website, gofundme.com, seeking financial help for Sharath Koppu’s family in Warangal.

“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 humor, and always made people laugh and was always eager to lend a helping hand,” the page reads.

The campaign that had set a goal of $40,000 had already collected $49,384 by 9.30 am (IST), Sunday, with as many as 1,533 people pitching in with the help in 12 hours.

Earlier, the university issued a statement offering condolences to the bereaved family. “We offer our sincere sympathies to Sharath’s family and friends in the wake of this senseless tragedy,” UMKC said in the statement on Saturday.

UMKC Chancellor C Mauli Agrawal took to Twitter to offered his own condolences.

“Sharath and I share an Indian heritage, but all of us at UMKC share in the grief such tragedies bring,” he posted.

The killing comes a year after another Indian techie from Hyderabad, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was murdered at a bar in Kansas City in what looked like 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’. Purinton was sentenced to life in May this year.

(With agency inputs)