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Kansas City Police Search For Suspect In UMKC Student's Death

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Sharath Koppu moved to the U.S. in January to pursue a Master's degree in Computer Science from UMKC.

Updated 3:50 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The remains of University of Missouri-Kansas City student Sharath Koppu are back in India and being prepared for traditional Hindu last rites.

Koppu’s family confirmed the body reached the Hyderabad airport Wednesday afternoon, Jagdeesh Subramanian, spokesman for the India Association of Kansas City, told KCUR. From there, it will travel to Warangal, the young man’s home town and where his family lives.

Subramanian said the family plans to cremate Koppu’s body Thursday. Cremation is considered the last step in the life cycle of a Hindu person, the liberation of the spirit from this world to the ancestral realm. 

Representatives of the Consul General of India were in Kansas City earlier this week to facilitate transport of Koppu’s body home, according to a spokesman with the consulate and the office’s Twitter account.

Kansas City police said in an email that there are no leads, but that the department's received more than 30 tips since Friday and "still need the public's help" in the investigation.

Original story from Monday, July 9, 2018

Kansas City police are offering a $10,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest in the shooting death of a UMKC student Friday. 

Investigators said 25-year old Sharath Koppu, who is from India, was shot and killed during an attempted robbery at a restaurant near 54th and Prospect. The Kansas City Star reported that witnesses said Koppu was shot in the back as he ran away from the suspect. Koppu reportedly worked at J's Chicken and Fish Market; UMKC said in a statement he was "assisting family friends." 

Police have released a short surveillance video of the man whom they say is a suspect. 

Koppu was a graduate student from India who arrived in the U.S. in January to pursue a master's degree in computer science. In a statement, UMKC Chancellor Mauli Aggrawal said counseling services would be available for students. 

"Sharath was a gifted student who had many friends among students and faculty. His violent death is shocking and painful – to his friends, and to our entire community as well. We are distressed by all acts of violence that affect our Kansas City community, but especially by any act of violence that affects our students," Aggrawal said. 

Jagdeesh Subramanian, president of the Indian Association of Kansas City, said the organization has been coordinating with local officials in an effort to transport Koppu's remains back to India. He said Koppu is from the city of Warangal in the state of Telangana.

"We got contacted because I think there was some delay in processing the remains and they were not being released from the medical examiner's office to go to the funeral home," Subramanian said.

A Go Fund Me page set up by a man claiming to be Koppu's cousin in India already has raised more than $50,000 to pay for getting Koppu’s body back to India.

Indian media reported over the weekend that authorities in Telangana were arranging for a family member to get documentation to come to the U.S. to retrieve Koppu's body. 

Telangana state was also the home state of Garmin engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was shot and killed at an Olathe, Kansas, bar last year. Kuchibhotla's killer later pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges and was sentenced to life in prison.

Editor's note: KCUR is licensed to the University of Missouri Board of Curators and is an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Kyle Palmer is KCUR's morning newscaster. You can follow him on Twitter @kcurkyle

Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
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