Sharath Koppu case: Suspect in Indian student’s murder shot dead by Kansas police

By Prarthana Mitra

A week after Sharath Koppu’s body was brought back to Warangal for cremation, the Kansas City police identified a person of interest involved in the shooting of the Indian student at a local restaurant on July 6. The suspect was shot dead after a brief standoff near 27th street and Van Brunt Boulevard on Sunday, July 15, after an exchange of fire that left three police officers injured.

Here’s what happened

In an attempt to arrest a person of interest responsible for the death of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UKMC) student, Kansas city detectives launched a city-wide campaign. They were looking for the man all week, but this was the first time the police “laid eyes on him,” said Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith in the official report.

Based on the surveillance footage of the restaurant robbery that killed Koppu, the police were able to narrow their search and identify the person of interest. After tailing his car, two undercover officers approached the suspect late on Sunday near an east Kansas motel.

Then the unnamed suspect reportedly opened fire on them with a rifle and fled the scene with a companion, who was later apprehended by the police along with the vehicle. Three officers were injured during the series of gunfights that followed, ending with the suspect’s death, the authorities reported on Monday.

Reactions of gratitude came pouring in

Koppu’s parents informed Indian media that they were happy for the justice served. The Indian Association of Kansas City lauded the efforts taken by the Kansas City police to catch the culprit, reflecting that the person of interest’s death has brought “some closure.”

“We are happy to hear that the suspect was caught and justice has been served to Koppu. On the same lines, we are equally disheartened hearing about the three officers who were shot in pursuit. Our thoughts and prayers are with them for a speedy recovery,” Jagdeesh Subramanian, president of the India Association of Kansas City, said in a statement.

The UKMC also expressed their gratitude to the Kansas City police officers who put themselves at risk investigating a person of interest responsible for the death of one of its students.

“On behalf of the entire UMKC family, I want to express our gratitude to all of the brave first responders involved in today’s events, especially the three injured officers, along with our hopes for their speedy and full recovery,” said UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal in a statement on Sunday afternoon. “These public servants risked their lives to pursue justice for our murdered student, Sharath Koppu.”

A recurring pattern of gun violence

Telugu software engineer Sharath Koppu who shifted to the US six months ago was a postgraduate student at UMKC. On July 6, the shooter opened fire on Koppu at J’s Fish and Chicken Market, where he worked part-time. Witnesses spoke to NDTV and said that Sharath was shot in the back while trying to run from the robber. “The others ducked behind the counter but Sharath turned around and began to run in the opposite direction when the gunman opened fire. Sharath was shot in the back and soon fell to the ground,” Shahid, who runs the restaurant said.

His death comes a year after 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla was brutally shot in Kansas City by a US Navy veteran shouting the words “Get out of my country” when he pulled the trigger. The killer Adam W Purinton was sentenced to life in May 2018.

Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius

United States