HOUSTON/WASHINGTON, Feb 24:
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 today.
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 on Wednesday night.
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 on Thursday morning, 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.
“I am shocked at the shooting incident in Kansas in which Srinivas Kuchibhotla has been killed. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved family,” she tweeted.
“I have spoken to Indian Ambassador in US Mr Navtej Sarna. He informed me that two Indian Embassy officials have rushed to Kansas,” she said.
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.
“Unfortunately, two associates on our Aviation Systems Engineering team, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, were shot. We are devastated to inform you that Srinivas passed away and Alok is currently recovering in the hospital,” Garmin said. (PTI)