A 25-year-old Indian student was fatally shot in the back during a suspected attempted robbery at a restaurant where he worked in Kansas City in the US state of Missouri, according to authorities.
Kansas City police identified the victim as University of Missouri-Kansas City student Sharath Koppu, who was shot at on Friday evening at J's Fish and Chicken Market near 54th and Prospect, where he worked as a part-time employee. He died shortly after being taken to a hospital.
Koppu from Telangana was a software engineer who came to the US in January to pursue his master's degree.
"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 (sic)," the Consulate General of India in Chicago tweeted on Saturday.
Kansas City police announced a USD 10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect and released a brief video of the suspect inside the restaurant moments before the shooting.
"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)," police tweeted along with the brief video of the suspect.
Koppu's cousin created a GoFundMe account in the victim's name to pay for his body to be returned to India. The account raised USD 25,000 in three hours, The Kansas City Star reported.
"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," wrote the cousin, Raghu Chowdavaram, in the description of the GoFundMe account.
"Little did anybody know that life is about to take a big unfortunate turn on a fateful day of July 6th 2018."
People at a nearby motel said they heard five gunshots from the direction of the restaurant, the paper said.
On Saturday afternoon, the restaurant remained closed during normal business hours. A sticker on the front door announced surveillance cameras are in place, presumably as a means to deter crime, the paper said.
A worker at the restaurant described to the paper what he saw on extended surveillance footage that has not been made public.
The suspect, wearing a brown shirt with white stripes, demanded money and pulled out a gun. "He's scared he's going to die," the man said of Koppu.
As people ducked or ran for cover around him, Koppu bolted directly away from the suspect, toward the back of the store.
"(Koppu) ran, so he shot him" in the back, the paper quoted the worker as saying.
Three or four customers were in the store at the time of the attempted robbery, the man said, as well as several employees behind the counter.
The university has reached out to Koppu's family in India, and counseling services are available to the university community, according to a statement released yesterday.
"We offer our sincere sympathies to Sharath's family and friends in the wake of this senseless tragedy," the statement said.
UMKC Chancellor C Mauli Agrawal offered his own condolences in a tweet last evening.
"Sharath and I share an Indian heritage, but all of us at UMKC share in the grief such tragedies bring," Agrawal wrote.