An Indian engineer was shot dead and another injured by an American who mistook them for “Middle Easterners” and yelled “Get out of my country”, “terrorist” before shooting them at a bar.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and Alok Madasani was injured when Adam W. Purinton, a white who earlier served in the US Navy, shot them at the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas state, on Wednesday night.
Ian Grillot, 24, an American who tried to save the Indians, was also shot at, media reports quoted police as saying. Grillot was recovering in a hospital while Madasani was discharged.
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) called it a hate crime saying that “the first reported bias-motivated fatality in the US after the bitter Presidential election” that catapulted Donald Trump to office.
“We call upon the US Department of Justice and local law enforcement to investigate this murder as what it is, a hate crime,” said Jay Kansara, the HAF Director of Government Relations.
The killing led news bulletins in India and drew strong reactions on social media, where people voiced concern that US President Donald Trump’s “America First” position on immigration and jobs has fuelled a climate of intolerance.
Adam Purinton, 51, was charged in Johnson County, Kansas, with one count of premeditated first degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first degree murder, Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe told a news conference.
At least one bystander told the Kansas City Star the man shouted “get out of my country” before shooting the Indian men. He is also accused of wounding American Ian Grillot, 24, who was shot when he tried to intervene, the Kansas City Star reported. Howe would not elaborate on the details of the incident or the motive for the shooting.
“We want to be able to be sure about our facts versus speculation. So we are not prepared at this point to talk about the particular facts of the case because this is still very fresh,” Howe said.
Trump’s election was welcomed at first by many in India who interpreted his calls to restrict immigration by Muslims as signalling support towards India, which has been at odds for decades with Pakistan, its mainly Muslim neighbour.
But the Trump administration may also have skilled Indian workers like Kuchibhotla in mind as it considers curbing the H-1B visa programme, worrying both India’s $150 billion IT services industry and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
“Don’t be shocked! Be angry! Trump is spreading hate. This is a hate crime! RIP #SrinivasKuchibhotla,” Siddharth, a well known South Indian actor who uses one name, tweeted to his 2.6 million followers in remarks echoed across social media.
Kavipriya Muthuramalingam, a friend and former colleague
of the shooting victim, has raised more than $250,000
via a crowd-funding website to help his family with funeral and other expenses.
“This came as an incredible shock – as he is one of the most gentle, nicest human beings you would meet,” Muthuramalingam said. “He was non-confrontational, non-controversial, easy-going, always smiling.”
Kuchibhotla’s Facebook page, where he called himself “Srinu”, said he joined US technology company Garmin in 2014 from Rockwell Collins. He took a master’s in electronics from the University of Texas in El Paso from 2005-07, according to LinkedIn. He was married but had no children.
India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, who has made a priority of supporting India’s diaspora in times of trouble, tweeted that she was “shocked” at the shooting and expressed her condolences to the bereaved family.
Two officials from the Indian consulate in Houston were going to Kansas to meet the injured men and police to “ascertain more details of the incident and monitor follow up action,” Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup said in a statement.
The US embassy in New Delhi condemned the shooting.
“The United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study, and live,” Charge d’Affaires MaryKay Carlson said in a statement.
“US authorities will investigate thoroughly and prosecute the case, though we recognize that justice is small consolation to families in grief.” The FBI was investigating whether the incident was a hate crime.
“We are looking at whether the crime was committed via bias motivation. We are really at the preliminary stage at looking at every aspect,” said Eric Jackson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Kansas City Field Office, during the news conference.
The suspect fled from the bar on foot and was apprehended five hours later at an Applebee’s in Clinton, Missouri, where he reportedly told an employee that he needed a place to hide out because he had killed two Middle Eastern men, the Star reported.
Purinton, who was not armed, was arrested without incident, the newspaper reported. The Navy veteran was being held on a $2 million bond in the Henry County Jail, where he waived his right to fight extradition to Johnson County.
Attacker shouted ‘get out of my country’
- Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed and Alok Madasani was injured when Adam W. Purinton, a White, shot them at the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas state
- Ian Grillot, an American who tried to save them, was also shot at.
- Adam Purinton shouted ‘get out of my country’ before shooting the Indian men.
- The US embassy in New Delhi condemned the shooting.
- Officials from the Indian consulate in Houston were going to Kansas to meet the injured men.
A bright career
- Kuchibhotla , 32, joined US technology company Garmin in 2014 from Rockwell Collins.a
- He took a master’s in elec-tronics from the University of Texas in El Paso from 2005-07 after completing his B Tech.
- He got married four years back, but had no children