Stunned Community Mourns Victims of Murder-Suicide

SUGAR LAND: The news of the Indian American couple’s death in an apparent murder-suicide at their home in Sugar Land has left the community in deep shock as friends and family looked for answers. On Monday, February 18 morning, the police responded to a 911 call to the home in the Telfair subdivision 6 am, where they found the bodies of Sreenivas Nakirekanti, 51, and his wife, 46-year-old Shanti.

The body of Shanti was found in the driveway of the home with a gunshot wound to her head. Her husband’s body was found in a bedroom of the house with a gunshot wound to the chest and a small handgun nearby.

A preliminary investigation indicated that Sreenivas shot and killed his wife Shanti, and then turned the gun on himself. The couple’s 16-year-old daughter, Nitya was home at the time of the shooting but was not injured. The couple’s 21-year-old son, Pranay a student at University of Texas, was not home at the time.
“The two fatalities fit the scenario of a murder-suicide. This case is still under investigation,” said the Sugar Land Police Department in a press statement. “There is no danger to residents and SLPD is not looking for any suspects,” it added.

The police also told friends who had received an email from Sreenivas – widely known as Sreeni – that day not to share the details of the message.

Close friends and family have since been taking care of the two children and there has been an overwhelming outpouring of support from the local Indian American community as well from all over the United States, and even from India. Shanti’s sister and her husband flew down with family to be with the couple’s children and to help arrange the final services. Family members and relatives from out of town and India also flew in to attend the services.

Ramesh Cherivirala is among the close friends that have jumped into action taking care of the children and the final arrangements. Cherivirala said that it was very comforting when Surendra Adhana, the Deputy Consul General of India in Houston coordinated with the family to make it easier for visa formalities.

Sreenivas Nakirekanti was born in Hyderabad and came to the US in 1990 to get a Masters degree from Texas A&M University in College Station, where he met his future wife Shanti, also from Hyderabad, who was also pursuing a Masters degree.

The couple married and settled in Houston. Sreeni’s last job for the past 12 years was as director at NRG energy company in Houston and his wife was in IT with United Airlines.

Sreeni was the founding member of Sri Vasavi Association of Houston. He also served as the Treasurer for the Indo-American Charity Foundation and was to head the organization this year.

Shanti is survived by her parents and a sister who lives in Detroit, Michigan where Nitya has now relocated to finish her schooling. Pranay will graduate in May and move to Seattle to work for Microsoft. Sreeni is survived by his parents and sister, who live in India. His parents are devastated as Sreeni’s’ brother had passed away in India just two years ago.

Final rites for the couple were held on Sunday, February 24 at the Winford Funeral Home. Nearly 300 people came to pay their last respects to the couple, who lay side-by-side in open caskets. Many of their family and friends spoke, including Sreeni’s manager at NRG, who fought back tears as he recalled “the gentle giant”.

The Nakirekanti children spoke their feelings and Nitya, very maturely, prayed that her parents would find peace.

Credit: Shobana Muratee & Jawahar Malhotra