Two Indian immigrants shot in Kansas
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Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, two immigrants from India, were enjoying after-work drinks at Austin's Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas when 51-year-old Navy veteran Adam W. Purinton began harassing the two men, using ethnic slurs and suggesting that they were not welcome in the United States.
Mr. Purinton was thrown out of the restaurant after other patrons complained, but he returned a short time later and opened fire on the two men. According to The New York Times, Mr. Kuchibhotla was killed while Mr. Madasani and 24-year-old Ian Grillot, another restaurant patron who tried to intervene, were injured and taken to the hospital.
Purinton fled the scene and then drove 70 miles east to Clinton, Missouri where he entered an Applebee’s restaurant. There he told the bartender that he had done something “really bad” and was on the run from the police according to the LA Times. After some time, the bartender convinced Purinton to tell her what happened and he confessed that he had just “…shot and killed two Iranian people…”.
The bartender then contacted the police and Purinton was arrested without incident. The 911 call supported eyewitness reports that said Purinton thought Mr. Kuchibhotla and Mr. Madasani were of Middle Eastern descent according to The Washington Post.
The two men were actually Indian nationals who had received master’s degrees in the United States and were employed by the technology firm Garmin, which specializes in manufacturing GPS systems, the LA Times reports. The shooting sparked outrage in India, and amongst the South Asian diaspora living in the U.S., to such a degree that the top American diplomat in the country was forced to issue a statement condemning the shooting as a “tragic and senseless act.”
The FBI is investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime, which would lead to federal prosecution in addition to the state murder charges already filed against Purinton, but in Washington the White House press secretary has rejected the notion that the shooting is a result of Trump’s new harsh policies against immigrants.
According to The New York Times, Mr. Purinton had had a few run-ins with the law in Johnson County, Kansas before the shooting—a speeding ticket in 2008 and a drunk-driving charge that was dismissed in 1999, but nothing too serious. Mr. Purinton’s neighbor said that he was frequently intoxicated but they never expected him to harm anyone else.
A memorial was held for the men’s families at First Baptist Church where a crowd of over 400 gathered to grieve. The mayor, Michael Copeland, spoke at the service saying, “As a community, we are still shocked, devastated, and angry… But this is not how it ends. This is not our Olathe.” The New York Times reports that Mr. Purinton is scheduled to appear in court and faces charges of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder.