Indian woman among victims of mass shooting at US mall

Washington: Aishwarya Thatikonda, an Indian engineer, has become one of the latests victims of rising gun violence in the US.

Thatikonda, along with another victim of the shooting at a shopping mall in Allen, Texas on Saturday, was identified by authorities on Monday. Besides them, six more people were killed in the incident.

She was at the mall with a friend.

Reports from India have identified her as Thatikonda Aishwarya Reddy, from Telengana. She is the daughter of a judge.

Reddy’s LinkedIn profile shows that she studied civil engineering in India, did her Master’s in construction management from Eastern Michigan University.

The shooter – identified as 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia – was killed by a law enforcement officer. He had served briefly in the US army, but was removed because of mental health problems.

Authorities are looking at Garcia’s possible links to white supremacists groups. At the time of the attack, he was wearing a patch that read “RWDS” – short for “right wing death squad”.

A review of his social media accounts, “revealed hundreds of postings and images to include writings with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist rhetoric, including neo-Nazi materials and material espousing the supremacy of the white race”, Rolling Stone reported citing FBI documents.

Gun laws are among the weakest in Texas. A Republican-ruled state has seen some of the worst mass shootings recently, including the massacre at an elementary school in May 2022, in which 19 students and two teachers were killed.

This Texas shooting is the 199th mass shooting – any shooting incident in which four or more people are killed or injured – in the US so far this year, according to Gun Violence Archive, an independent tracker of gun violence in the US. In all 14,000 Americans have been killed in 2023 in gun violence.

Indians working and living in the US – not Indian American, but Indian citizens – have not been spared from the scourge of gun violence. Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an IT engineer, was fatally shot in Kansas in 2017 by a man who said he mistook him for some from West Asia. The next year, Sharath Koppu, a Missouri university student, was killed in a robbery attempt at a restaurant where he worked.

Gun violence is America’s runaway problem, with no resolution in sight as it has become inextricably interwoven into US politics – conservatives see it as a an issue of the right to bear arms and oppose any effort to bring about meaningful gun law reforms and accuse liberals of trying to take away that right.

The National Rifles Association (NRA), a powerful gun lobby, is behind these efforts to thwart reforms and it has been immensely successful.


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