Family of Sri Lankan-Origin Entrepreneur, Shot Dead by US Cop, Looks for Answers

"Why Raj was killed so quickly before being given a reasonable amount of time to drop the weapon?" the family asks.

South Asians
5 min read

Video Producer: Aparna Singh

Video Editor: Pawan Kumar

"I just wanted to hold him … and say I love him. Thank you for being this amazing gift that I had,'' says Ruth Moonesinghe, the mother of Rajan Moonesinghe, a tech founder who was shot dead in a police incident last month in Austin, Texas.

"I’m just sad. I wasn’t there because … that shouldn’t have happened to him," Ruth tells NBC News.

Rajan Moonesinghe, 33, Raj to his friends and colleagues, was shot dead by an Austin police officer around 12:30 am on 15 November.

‘It Wasn’t Me’

On the intervening night of 14-15 November, Raj was home when he suspected his home had been burglarised. He told a neighbour that someone was in his house and he was going to call 911. He then picked a rifle.

At the same time, across the street from his home, a private security guard called 911 to report what Moonesinghe was doing.


“He almost seems to be scared of something inside his house. He's pointing the rifle at the interior of his home,” the guard told a dispatcher, according to a recording of the 911 call released by the Austin Police.

The man told the dispatcher that Moonesinghe fired two shots inside his own home just before the cops arrived. “Looks like he is currently pointing his rifle at the interior of his home,” said the caller, adding, “He just fired... he fired into his home... the police are here. He fired again.”

In addition to the two shots, apparently fired by Moonesinghe, five shots are then heard on the call.

According to the details of the case released by the Austin Police, the 911 call was received at 12:28 am.

Officer Daniel Sanchez and Officer Stephen Markert, driving separate police vehicles arrived at approximately 12:33 am, the APD said.

“Officer Sanchez was the first to observe Mr Moonesinghe and gave him a verbal command to drop the gun. Immediately after telling Mr Moonesinghe to drop the gun, Officer Sanchez fired his department approved firearm at Mr Moonesinghe. Mr Moonesinghe was struck and fell to the ground.”
Austin Police Department

This incident was captured on body-worn camera, dash camera, and other video sources, the police department said, releasing the 911 call recording and footage from the cameras.

In the ring camera video footage, Moonesinghe could be seen walking back around the corner of the house.


“Yeah, you want this? Are you sure? My God you’re f****** stupid,” he says, pointing the gun again. Then gunshots are heard – one after another. As he walks back towards the front of the house, officer Sanchez fires his gun – one after another – a total five shots.

Moonesinghe drops to the ground and only a feeble sound is heard: “It wasn’t me f***.”

“Suspect is down, hands are up,” an officer is heard saying off camera. “Show your hands, do it now.”

“It wasn’t me,” says Moonesinghe.

‘He Did Nothing Wrong’

Speaking to NBC News, Moonesinghe’s heartbroken mother and brother said they were looking for answers from the Austin Police as to why Raj was killed so quickly before being given a reasonable amount of time to drop the weapon.

Asserting that his brother “did nothing wrong,” Johann said, “He had a gun … he was defending his house and he didn’t point the gun. He was not menacing. He didn’t look like he was going to shoot anyone.”

Johann added that Raj got a rifle to protect himself as there had been recent crimes in the area.

“He called his friend, and he said I think something’s been moved around my house. Something strange is going on."
Johann Moonesinghe

APD said it will conduct two concurrent investigations into this incident: a criminal investigation by the APD Special Investigations Unit in conjunction with the Travis County District Attorney's Office and an administrative investigation conducted by the APD Internal Affairs Unit, with oversight from the Office of Police Oversight.


Officer Sanchez who discharged his firearm has been placed on administrative leave while the two investigations are on, the police said.

In response to The Quint’s email seeking details into the investigations, the APD said it has released all publicly available materials connected to this case.

“The department respects the investigation and court process and will not make any further comments at this time,” an Austin Police spokesperson said.

‘Happiest Eating His Mom's Food’

Rajan David Moonesinghe, an American tech entrepreneur of Sri Lankan origin, grew up in Los Angeles, California. Earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of San Diego, Raj worked as a financial analyst before turning entrepreneur.

He co-founded InKind, a financial technology company, with his brother Johann in 2015, and it has now grown into an organisation of more than 70 employees, financing over 600 restaurants throughout the country. While he lived in Washington, DC for a few years, he moved to Austin five years ago to grow InKind.

In the last 12 months, Raj helped to raise over $150 million for the startup.

“His kindness, generosity, and sense of duty to those less fortunate travelled with him. As a teenager, he journeyed to East Africa with his mother and six members of his church, where he donated soccer gear that he had collected from local teams in California,” according to his obituary.


In 2021, he purchased a farm in rural Zambia to “build up infrastructure, trade, and commerce for the nine local villages. Goshen is set to build a school for local children, a medical clinic, and employ and educate locals with sustainable agriculture systems.”

The obit described Raj as someone who loved and adored his family. "He flew his father to Austin every year to watch Formula 1 races. He was at his happiest eating his mom's food, and she was his favourite dance partner at weddings and parties,” the obit says.

Rajan’s mother Ruth, a high school calculus teacher in Pasadena, grew up in Sri Lanka and moved to California in 1977.

“He enjoyed good food and spending time with family and friends. He brought people together and made those around him feel welcome and heard,” the obit says. “Rajan will be missed beyond words, but never forgotten.”

Johann has announced that he has formed a foundation in the memory of his brother and will be investing millions of dollars into police reform.

"When Raj was buried, I made a promise to him. I said, 'Raj, I will be an unstoppable force of justice for you. And I will make sure this doesn’t happen to another family'," Johann told ABC affiliate KVUE.

(With inputs from NBC News and KVUE.)

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