By Margaret Stafford Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A man who was fatally shot after wounding three Kansas City police officers during a gunfight had not drawn law enforcement’s attention before he became a person of interest this month in the death of a college student from India, police said Monday.
Investigators believe 25-year-old Marlin Mack opened fire on officers Sunday with a high-powered semi-automatic rifle during a confrontation that began outside a motel before moving to a nearby home, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith said.
Smith, who didn’t say where Mack was from, declined to say what preceded the confrontations. But he said one of the injured officers was expected to be released Monday and would need ongoing medical attention. The other two will remain hospitalized but are in stable condition, Smith said.
Mack was wanted for questioning in the slaying of 25-year-old Sharath Koppu, who was fatally shot during an armed robbery on July 6 at a fast-food restaurant. Relatives said Koppu was studying for a master’s degree in computer engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Investigators believe Koppu, who was helping a friend at the restaurant, was the random victim of a robbery, police spokesman Sgt. Jake Becchina said Monday. Video from the restaurant prompted up to 40 tips, which Smith said was vital to finding Mack.
“I can’t thank those people enough for having the courage to call our tips hotline and being willing to reach out to us,” Smith said.
Officers found Mack on Sunday at a motel in eastern Kansas City. Investigators said he fired at officers , hitting two of them. Mack then fled to a nearby home where more gunfire was exchanged. He eventually came out of the house firing and was shot by officers, police said.
A juvenile who fled the scene of the first shooting was taken into custody but isn’t expected to face charges, Becchina said Monday.
Smith said police were not aware of Mack before Koppu’s shooting. Prison officials in Missouri and Kansas have no record of any prior violations, and online court records show no criminal history for Mack.
Koppu was a software engineer who came to the United States from India in January, according to a GoFundMe page set up by his family. His cousin, Raghu Chowdavaram, told WDAF-TV on Monday that Koppu was chasing his dream of earning a graduate degree in computer engineering.
“He was determined to do something very big,” Chowdavaram said.
University Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal expressed thanks in a statement Sunday to the officers who were wounded while investigating Koppu’s death, saying they “risked their lives to pursue justice.”
Jagdeesh Subramanian, president of the India Association of Kansas City, said the robbery and fatal shooting of Koppu appeared random and unfortunately “could have happened to anybody.”