Aishwarya Thatikonda, one of the eight victims killed during a mass shooting at a mall in Allen, Texas, in early May, was laid to rest a day after her remains arrived in Hyderabad, India.
Ashok Kolla, the treasurer of the Telugu Association of North America (TANA), started a search effort for Thatikonda after receiving a call on the morning of May 7. The caller stated that the 26-year-old project engineer was unreachable by phone and nowhere to be found.
Hours later, TANA confirmed with the Collin County Medical Examiner’s Office that Thatikonda was one of the eight people — four of whom were of Asian descent — killed at Allen Premium Outlets on May 6.
TANA and its volunteers started the process of flying Thatikonda’s remains back home to her family in Hyderabad, the capital of India’s Telangana state.
While Thatikonda’s family originally planned to travel to the United States to bring her body home, the Telugu community in Texas took on the responsibility of bringing her remains to India instead with the help of several agencies, including the consulate of India in Houston.
“The necessary formalities had been completed and the body was sent to India,” Kolla told Times of India.
Thatikonda’s remains were sent to Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport aboard an Emirates flight and prepped for the woman’s funeral ceremony on Thursday.
Over 100 mourners gathered outside the house of Thatikonda’s father, Rangareddy court judge T Narsi Reddy, at the HUDA Colony in Saroornagar, Hyderabad. Several of Thatikonda’s relatives accompanied her body to a crematorium soon after performing Hindu rituals.
Others who attended the ceremony and offered their condolences to the family include Minister of Energy of Telangana Guntakandla Jagadish Reddy and Members of the Legislative Assembly politicians Gadari Kishore and Shanampudi Saidireddy.
Thatikonda moved to the U.S. to study construction management at Eastern Michigan University (EMU), where she earned her master’s degree in construction management.
Thatikonda, who worked at Perfect General Contractors LLC on Punjab Way in Frisco, Texas, prior to her death, was supposed to pick up her boss Srinivas Chaluvadi from the airport on the day she was killed.
EMU honored Thatikonda following the incident, with EMU President James Smith telling Fox 2 Detroit that despite being an EMU alumna, Thatikonda still had ties to the university.
“She’s still on our STEM OTP roster which means she’s off working, but she’s still connected to the university, so we felt even more connected to her loss. Although it’s always a horrible loss when we lose any of our alums, through something this tragic, this senseless. I think it makes it even more painful.”
In addition to Thatikonda, seven other people were killed during the May 6 shooting, including a Korean American family celebrating their 6-year-old son’s birthday.
The boy survived, but his parents and 3-year-old brother did not after 33-year-0ld suspect Mauricio Garcia opened fire in the mall. Garcia was later shot dead by the police.