Sharath Koppu, a student at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, was shot on July 6, 2018 at J’s Fish and Chicken market where he worked as a part-time employee. The Indian community in the US raised an amount of USD 50,892 in a span of 19 hours through crowdfunding.
There was an appeal made online to raise money in order to send the victim’s body back in Hyderabad, India by Sharath’s cousin Raghu Chowdavaram, who also stays in the US. Around 1595 Indians contributed to this cause via GoFundMe.
Sharath was a computer software engineer graduate from Vasavi College of engineering and he worked in Hyderabad before going to the US in January 2018 to pursue his master’s degree.
Minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj expressed her solace to the victim’s family through her tweet: “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 Kansas Incident:
The suspect who was wearing a brown shirt with white stripes demanded money and pulled out a gun in Kansas restaurant on the fateful day of July 6, 2018. People ducked or ran for cover around him, but Sharath Koppu leaped directly away from the suspect towards the back of the store. Sharath was shot at the back, as per a Kansas newspaper.
The police released a video of the suspect entering the restaurant and asking for money, moments before the shooting and asked for community’s assistance in identifying the accused. They also offered a USD 10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect. “Looking for the suspect in the robbery and murder of 25-year-old Sharath Koppu at 5412 Prospect on July 6. Sharath was from India and is a student at UMKC. USD 10,000 reward for info leading to charges in this (and every KCMO murder),” police tweeted along with the video.
Reacting to the Kansas incident, while collecting funds, Indians living in the US said that students are not allowed to work off-campus, but Sharath was working part-time at J’s Fish and Chicken Market, which was illegal as he was on student visa and could only work on-campus. However, whenever the situation demands, the Indian diaspora has always stood-up in during crisis for their native people and mobilised funds for one another.
Another incident in Kansas, 2017:
This is not the first time when an incident like this happened in Kansas. A similar incident took place in the year 2017 where another Hyderabad techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead in the US on February 22, 2018 in a suspected hate crime. He was killed by Adam W. Purinton, a former servant in the US Navy. He shot Kuchibhotla at the Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas state. Purinton got into an argument with Kuchibhotla and another person hurled racial mumbles. He yelled, “Get out of my country” and “terrorist” and then shot both the Indians. Kuchibhotla from Hyderabad and his colleague Alok Madasani from Warangal district Telangana were working as aviation programme managers at Garmin, an MNC.
Another incident took place in Mississippi, when a 21 year old Indian man from Jalandhar, Punjab named Sandeep Singh in the US was shot dead in the month of November, 2017 in front of his house in Jackson city of Mississippi, during a robbery attempt. According to the police, the robbery was likely linked to a group of men involved in a string of robberies in the city. Sandeep and two other men were standing outside the house when a man in a mask and a hoodie walked up to them and took their money and cell phones. As he was running away, he opened fire on the group and one of the bullets hit Sandeep, said the police.
Akash R. Talati, an Indian-origin motel owner called Knights Inn and Diamondz Gentlemen’s Club in Fayetteville city, North Carolina, US was shot dead along with four other people being injured on November 11, 2017. He was an innocent bystander when a man who had been escorted out of Akash’s club returned and exchanged gunfire with a security guard.