Promising UAE student shot dead in US robbery

Neil Kumar, 30, was studying for a master's degree in computer science in Alabama

The only son of an Indian family from Sharjah has been shot dead in a petrol station robbery in the United States.

Neil Kumar, 30, who grew up in the UAE, was working at the garage part-time while studying for a master's degree in computer science.

The attack took place in Pike County, Alabama, as Kumar opened up the business early on Wednesday morning.

Shortly after 6am, a masked gunman burst into the attached mini supermarket and shot him at point-blank range before stealing a small amount of cash.

Detectives investigating the case said the incident – captured on CCTV – was over in less than a minute and that Kumar had not resisted the theft.

“After reviewing the camera system we saw…a male person entered the store with their handgun, pointed at the clerk and went behind the counter,” said Moses Davenport, chief of police in the city of Brundidge.

“And, apparently, he [the gunman] just got aggravated because the clerk seemed to be very co-operative, and he shot him.”

Originally from India, Kumar’s parents, Kumar Purushu and his wife Seema, have lived in Sharjah for most of their lives.

The couple’s three children, including Kumar, went to school in Dubai. Kumar’s two sisters have both since settled in America.

Kumar was enrolled at Troy University where friends and staff said they were shocked and saddened by his death.

His parents are understood to have flown to the US for his funeral on Monday. Police have not caught the gunman, who was dressed entirely in black except for white gloves.

"Neil opened the gas station at 6am and at around 6.15am a masked gunman barged into the shop and asked him to hand over the cash," Ramanan Vengali, a relative of the family, told Khaleej Times.

“The video footage released by US authorities shows that Neil did not put up any resistance. But the criminal went behind the counter and shot him point-blank.”

Dr Bill Zhong, chairman of the computer science department at Troy University, described Kumar as an exceptional student.

"He was a very happy person....smiled all the time, [a] bright student as well," he said.

"Everybody was saddened because he was such a wonderful young person."

A $4,000 (Dh14,700) reward is being offered for any information leading to the arrest of the gunman.

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