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Friends Plead With Public To Help Find Student's Killer

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- For a young man from India, coming to America proved fatal. His friends spoke out to help find the person who killed him.

Click here to watch Gary Nelson's report. 

Twenty two year-old Saikiran Aila was shot dead on the walk in front of his apartment on Sunday at 2:30 a.m. on Southwest 6th Street in Little Havana.

A lone gunman shot him, again and again, in an apparent botched robbery, police believe. He had been here from India only a month and was pursuing a master's degree at Atlantis University in Miami.

On Wednesday two best friends, roommates and classmates, recalled a quiet, big-hearted fellow.

"He was such a good person. He just went to school and came home, that's it. He did not go anywhere," said Krishna Katukam at a news conference organized by Miami Police in an effort to get leads to the killing.

His friends said they remain disbelieving and "frozen" by his murder.

Hari Katroth spoke of his friend in the present tense at the news conference.

"He's a good person. He's a really good person. He's a really friendly man," Katroth said.

Investigators believe the student was murdered for his cell phone. He was on the phone with a friend, when the friend heard a voice say, "Give me the phone." The killer didn't get the phone, or Aila's wallet or other valuables. There were no eyewitnesses, but lots of people heard the many gunshots and looked quickly out to the street. They saw no vehicle, which causes police to believe the killer took off on foot.

"This was very cold-blooded and it was very horrific and very sad," said Miami Homicide Sergeant Altarr Williams. "This young man had come here to America to further his education and help his family back in India."

Back in India, the robbery and murder made big news. Murderous robbers are not common there. Television news reports repeatedly aired about the student "murdered for his iPhone."

His friends who came with him to America are not accustomed to the violence we have in the United States and admitted to being afraid, but not too afraid to speak out.

"We need your help to find the culprit, the help of the press," said Katukam. "We need your help and we need the (police) department to find the culprit."

They also need help in getting their friend's body back home to his parents in India.

Anyone with possible information about the killing is asked to call Crimestoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Callers may remain anonymous and still collect a reward of up to $3,000.

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