Aishwarya Thatikonda, 26, was working as an engineer at McKinney and was shopping for her birthday when she was killed.
ALLEN, Texas – Aishwarya Thatikonda’s corner desk at the contracting firm where she worked is overflowing with flowers.
“We are removing as they come,” said Sri Chaluvadi, the owner of the company. “It’s a terrible loss.”
Chaluvadi worked with Thatikonda for two and a half years. Even at just 26, he says she was as smart and efficient at his job as he was.
“My day starts with a phone call to her. My day ends with a phone call to her,” Chaluvadi said. “It’s downright devastating.”
He worried that something might have gone wrong when she missed a Saturday afternoon work appointment. Thatikonda was so badly injured by the rifle she was shot with that she was not identified until Sunday evening by fingerprints.
“The whole country and our community are all in mourning,” Ashok Kolla said with the North American Telugu Association.
Kolla and other members of the Telugu community Thatikonda is a part of were at DFW this morning to send her body to family members in India for burial.
“Everyone is panicking and it’s heartbreaking,” Kolla said. “They have to continue to feel the pain day after day [waiting] see her for the last time.
“Emotionally, it’s very disturbing,” Chaluvadi said. “Her smile was very good. I really miss her smile.”
Aishwarya was shopping for a dress for her 27th birthday just weeks away when she was killed. A friend she was with was also killed, but she is now stable after three surgeries.
“They had a lot of life. They had a lot to give to this country, to this world,” Chaluvadi said. “The pain is there, and I think it will be there for a long time.”
“I’m really heartbroken,” Kolla said. “That’s all I can say.”
On Tuesday morning, Thatikonda’s body was flown to her hometown of Hyderabad, India. The coffin carrying his body was sent on an Emirates flight at 4am via DFW airport.
Ashok Kolla, who is a member of the North American Telugu Association, had the help of Collin County, state and consulate officials to expedite the process.
“Usually, it’s a 36 to 48 hour process, which we’ve streamlined to less than 12 to 13 hours. That’s the strength of our organization and volunteers,” said Kolla.
Bringing Aishwarya home to her family was a priority. It was also important that it be done quickly, according to the Hindu custom.
“It’s emotional. The whole country and our community are all in mourning. They are all heartbroken,” Kolla said.
Kolla wanted to thank the Collin County Medical Examiners’ Office for helping expedite the trial. The family friend tells WFAA that a volunteer had to take documents in Houston to the consulate just to make sure all the required documents were filed.