Indian-origin engineer Aishwarya Thatikonda, was among the nine people killed when a gun-wielding man opened fire at shoppers outside a mall in Dallas area in the US on Saturday, The New York Post reported. Thatikonda, a project manager with a private company in Dallas and a resident of Saroornagar in Hyderabad had moved to the US from India. According to local media reports the 27-year-old was shopping with a friend at the Allen Premium Outlets in the northern suburbs of Dallas when a gunman opened fire.
The assailant identified as Mauricio Garcia was later shot dead by a police officer. Thatikonda, 27, lived and worked in McKinney, Texas while her family was in India, Texas-based WFAA television station reported. According to a family representative, the Indian-origin girl was with a friend at the outlet mall when the shots rang out. Her friend who also sustained injuries is currently in stable condition at the hospital, the network was cited in the WFAA report. Thatikonda’s family plans to bring her body back to India, the representative said. As per her LinkedIn profile, Thatikonda had been working in Dallas for over two years.
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In a statement, the Allen Premium Outlets stated: “We are horrified by the senseless tragedy at Allen Premium Outlets and are outraged by the violence that continues to plague our country,” according to The New York Post. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and others affected by this heinous act. We are thankful for the Allen Police Officer’s heroic actions and for the support of all the first responders.” Brian E Harvey, the chief of police in Allen, Texas, said at a news conference on Saturday night that the gunman acted alone. A police officer, who was on another assignment at the mall at the time of the shooting, heard gunfire, rushed towards it, and killed the shooter. Around 3:30 pm (local time), a shooting was witnessed at the Allen Premium Outlets, an outdoor shopping centre with more than 120 retailers located about 25 miles north of Dallas, according to The New York Times.
Social media users posted a video showing the shooter lying on the ground, dressed in all-black, holding a long rifle, and what appeared to be several rounds of ammo and a tactical vest. Hundreds of customers were seen leaving the area on video taken from the scene while many of them had their hands raised. The aerial footage showed at least three bodies covered in sheets outside the mall, reported New York Times. According to US Census Bureau, Texas has the second-largest Indian-American population in the US as of 2020. In 2010, there were 230,842 Indian Americans in Texas, making up 0.9 per cent of the population. According to the data shared by the Open Doors, about half of the Indian students are pursuing higher education in six US states including New York, California, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Arizona. Texas had 19,382 Indian students in 2021 (ANI)