Vishnu ‘Kisan’ Pandit, Navy Yard shooting victim, mourned by throngs at funeral


People gather for the memorial service of Vishnu B. Pandit, 61, at the Robert A. Pumphrey Funeral Home on Thursday in Rockville. The memorial service was the first for the victims of Monday's mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Those who knew Vishnu “Kisan” Pandit said he might have been slightly embarrassed by the hundreds of people who lined up outside a Rockville funeral home Thursday afternoon to recall his kindness and his work ethic.

“He was a very simple man,” said Rangamani S. Murthy, a family friend for about 20 years.

Pandit, 61, of North Potomac, was one of 12 people killed in the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard Monday morning. His memorial service was the first for the victims of the rampage.

At the Robert A. Pumphrey Funeral Home in Rockville, mourners filled the first level of the white two-story funeral home. Some stood in the lobby, listening to the service over a loudspeaker system. Others, unable to go in, gathered on the front lawn.

“Kisan, you didn’t like a lot of crowds,” said a friend during the ceremony. “This place is packed. It really is packed.”

Vishnu Pandit (Courtesy of Pandit Family)

There were high-ranking naval officers in attendance. Co-workers who either fled the shooting, arrived late to work or telecommuted on Monday. And a host of friends.

“This is just unbelievable,” Rohini Rao, who worked on the fourth floor of Building 197, where the shooting occurred, said as she left the service. Rao, who was 10 minutes late to work on Monday, said she was still trying to deal with the loss. “Eight people that I knew died.”

As the service began, a friend of Pandit slowly read the names of the “12 lives [that] crossed paths” on Monday. After 30 seconds of silence, he said: “God bless them and may they all rest in peace.”

After the service, friends embraced outside the funeral home, sharing stories about the man who loved spending time with his family and friends, playing with his dog and working at the Navy Yard.

“He was one of the greatest individuals I knew,” said Clayton Jedrey of Norfolk, who worked for Pandit for seven years. “Just easy to work for and always willing to help.”

Several friends spoke about his quiet nature. But they also pointed out how proud he was to serve his country by working for the Navy. He had worked in several jobs for the Navy during his more than 25 years of service, according to an obituary.

Pandit was born in Mumbai, then known as Bombay, and attended a marine engineering college in Calcutta before moving to the United States in pursuit of a better life. He went to the University of Michigan, finished his graduate studies and eventually moved to Maryland, where he and his wife, Anjali, raised two sons, Siddhesh and Kapil.

“He was a wonderful human being,” said Murthy, a doctor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “He was a very kind, really happy man. He never let go of his values and he was proud to be an American. . . . He had so much more to give still, and his life was taken away.”

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis.

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