ALLEN, Texas - Family members from India are working to recover the body of Aishwarya Thatikonda after she was shot and killed at the Allen Premium Outlets over the weekend.
The 26-year-old was visiting the shops with a friend ahead of her birthday later this month.
Family representative Ashok Kolla spent all day Sunday search for Thatikonda after her roommates became concerned that she didn't come home, and her phone was turned off.
"The whole Indian community came forward. They were like, let's go and check at hospitals, let's go and check, you know, if she's with some friends, we did explore all the options," Kolla said.
Finally, they checked the Collin County Medical Examiner's Office and found her.
"This isn’t something anyone dreamt of," Kolla said. "We don't want to hear the sad news, but unfortunately that’s what it is."
Kolla then had to make the gut-wrenching call to Thatikonda's parents in India.
Now, he's working to help transport her body overseas.
Thatikonda come to the U.S. for college, attending Eastern Michigan University. After graduating, she moved to Texas. Thatikonda lived in McKinney and worked as an engineer for a company in Frisco.
Kolla says Thatikonda came to the U.S. for a better education, and a better life.
"The family is staying thousands of miles from here, and she came here for a better a dream," he said. "Coming to the US is a dream come true for many of our international students thinking we are going to have a bright future."
Kolla says he is in contact with Thatikonda's mother, who is waiting on the other side of the world to see her daughter one final time.
"Painful. It's everywhere in the media now. Until she arrives there it’s just counting down the days right? It’s painful," he said.
Thatikonda leaves behind her parents and a brother in India.
Eastern Michigan University released a statement on Thatikonda's death on Monday.
"We were deeply saddened to learn this morning that an Eastern Michigan University graduate, Aishwarya Thatikonda, was among those killed in Saturday's shooting at a mall outside of Dallas, Texas. Aishwarya graduated from Eastern in Dec. 2020 with a Master of Science in construction management. According to published reports, Aishwarya was working as a project engineer with a Texas-based construction firm and went to the mall with a friend to go shopping in advance of her 28th birthday. As the nation has to once again grapple with a senseless act of gun violence, we share our condolences with Aishwarya's family and friends. She will forever be remembered as a strong Eastern Michigan University Eagle," the statement said.
The friend that Thatikonda was with was also injured in the shooting. He is currently in the hospital.
The Consulate General of India in Houston says it is completing formalities to transport Thatikonda's remains.
The CGI says that two other Indian nationals have been injured in the shooting.