File photo of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla who was killed in a shooting in a Kansas City, Feb. 22. Kuchibhotla was with his friend at a bar in the city when a man allegedly shouted “get out of my country” before shooting at them. (Press Trust of India)
An Indian engineer was killed and two others were injured after an American navy veteran yelling “terrorist” and “get out of my country” opened fire on them in a crowded bar in Kansas City in an apparent racially motivated hate crime, police said, Feb. 24, write Seema Hakhu Kachru and Lalit K. Jha. – @Siliconeer #Siliconeer #USCongress #TheWhiteHouse #IndianAmerican #KamalaHarris #PramilaJayapal #Trump #Immigration #TrumpImmigrationPolicy @KamalaHarris @PramilaJayapal @TiESV #TiESV #Hatecrime #Garmin
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, working at GPS-maker Garmin headquarters in Olathe, died of bullet injuries in hospital while his Indian colleague Alok Madasani was critically injured when the 51-year-old shooter started yelling hurling racial slurs following an altercation, Feb. 22.
A third person, an American man identified as Ian Grillot, 24, who tried to intervene also received injuries in the firing in Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe.
The shooter, Adam Purinton, reportedly got into an argument with the victims in the terms of racism, and shouted “get out of my country,” “terrorist” before shooting them.
Purinton reportedly provoked them into an argument asking their presence and work in his country, and how they are better than him.
According to police, Purinton left the bar after the argument and then returned with a gun and shot the three men while patrons were watching the University of Kansas-TCU basketball game on television in the bar.
The shooter was arrested the morning of Feb. 23, five hours after the incident and charged with murder and attempted murder.
Authorities declined at a news conference to say whether the shooting was a hate crime although local police said they were working with the FBI to investigate the case.
“It was a tragic and senseless act of violence,” Olathe Police Chief Steven Menke told reporters.
The FBI has joined local police authorities in the investigation. “The FBI is investigating to determine if the shooting of Kuchibhotla, was a bias-motivated hate crime in violation of the victims’ civil rights,” Eric Jackson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Kansas City office told reporters at a news conference.
Asked if the presence of federal authorities indicated the shooting could be considered a hate crime, Jackson said it was too early to determine.
The shooting incident comes at a time when hate crimes and acts of bigotry have risen notably in America after President Donald Trump came to power.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expressed shock over the incident and said two Indian consulate officials from Houston have been rushed to Kansas to render all possible assistance.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Kuchibhotla and Madasani hailed from Hyderabad and Warangal, and were working at Garmin in Olathe (Kansas).
“Houston Deputy Consul R.D. Joshi and Vice Consul Harpal Singh will meet the injured and facilitate in bringing the mortal remains of the deceased and will be in touch with local police officials to ascertain more details of the incident and monitor follow up action,” Swarup said.
They will also meet the community members in Kansas, he said.
According to Garmin, Kuchibhotla and Madasani worked in the company’s aviation systems.
Kuchibhotla posted on LinkedIn in 2014 that he managed helicopter programs. He had a master’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the University of Texas at El Paso. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad.
A 2014 post on LinkedIn said Madasani, 32, was an aviation program coordinator manager at Garmin. He studied at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and at Vasavi College of Engineering in Hyderabad.
The shooter, a navy veteran with inactive pilot license and air traffic controller certificate, told a bartender in Clinton, Missouri, where he was hiding after the shooting that he killed two Middle Eastern persons, local media reported.
He has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder and his bond has been set at $2 million.
According to Kansas City Star, the shooter worked as an air traffic controller in Olathe. He also worked at the Federal Aviation Administration, but left FAA in 2000.
Friends of Kuchibhotla have set up a GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/srinus-familyrecovery-support) page to help raise funds for sending his remains to India.
“Srini was the kindest person you would meet, full of love, care and compassion for everyone. He never uttered a word of hatred, a simple gossip, or a careless comment. He was brilliant, well mannered and simply an outstanding human being,” the fund raising page said.
“His wife Sunayana and his family are now faced with incredible grief and a multitude of expenses,” it said.
The shooting incident comes at a time when hate crimes and acts of bigotry have risen notably during the recent months in America.
It has sent shocked waves among Indian Americans and the Indian community across the United States.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Kuchibhotla,” said Jay Kansara, director of Government Relations at Hindu American Foundation.
“We are also praying for a speedy recovery for the injured. We call upon the U.S. Department of Justice and local law enforcement to investigate this murder as what it is, a hate crime. Anything less will be an injustice to the victims and their families,” he said.
The 24-year old third victim, Grillot in an interview from his hospital said that he hid behind a table when Purinton opened fire.
He counted the gunshots and when he thought the gunman was out of bullets, he jumped up to stop him but Purinton still had one round left, and he used it to shoot Grillot.
The bullet went through his hand and into his chest. “I m just very grateful that one of the gentlemen is fine and alive. It s terrible what happened to his friend. But I think he was watching over us last night,” he said.
Grillot said that he learned Madasani’s wife is five months pregnant and that he considers the engineer his new best friend.
The sports bar where the shooting took place has been closed with a sign on the door that said it would remain closed indefinitely.