A 24-year-old University of Missouri-Kansas City student was fatally shot in the back Friday night in a robbery attempt at the restaurant where he worked, according to a man who viewed surveillance footage of the incident and was working at the restaurant Saturday.
Kansas City police identified the victim as Sharath Koppu. He was shot about 7 p.m. Friday at J’s Fish and Chicken Market near 54th and Prospect. Men at a nearby motel said they heard five gunshots from the direction of the restaurant.
Police released video of the suspect inside the store moments before the shooting and asked for the community’s assistance in identifying him.
Koppu was a software engineer who came to the United States from India in January to pursue his master’s degree, wrote a cousin who established a GoFundMe account in Koppu’s name. The account, created on Saturday, raised $25,000 in three hours.
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“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,” wrote Raghu Chowdavaram in the description of the GoFundMe account.
The man at the restaurant was collecting food items there Saturday. It was closed during normal business hours, with corrugated metal concealing its windows.
A sticker on the front door announces surveillance cameras are in place, presumably as a means to deter crime.
The man at the restaurant didn’t wish to be named, but he described to The Star what he saw on the footage.
The suspect, wearing a brown shirt with white stripes, demanded money and pulled out a gun. Kopp
“He’s scared he’s going to die,” the man said.
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 man said, shaking his head and adding Koppu didn’t know how to work the register
Koppu died shortly after being taken to a hospital.
One of his co-workers was also at the restaurant Saturday. Tears streamed down her face as she screamed at the unfairness of Koppu’s early death, how he didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to his parents.
The man who viewed the footage said Koppu was related to the owner of J’s Fish and Chicken, which has three locations in Kansas City.
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.
Donations to the GoFundMe will be used to help send Koppu’s body to India.
The Consulate General of India, which has offices in Chicago, tweeted Saturday that officers are en route to Kansas City and are communicating with Koppu’s family.
“Sharath will be missed not only by his family, but by everyone whose life he touched,” wrote his cousin, Chowdavaram.
Anyone with information about the identity of the suspect is urgedto call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477 or through the app at www.kccrimestoppers.com.