Adam Purinton, a 51-year-old white male, killed Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old engineer from India, because he looked “Iranian.” The FBI is investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Purinton opened fire on Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, 32, who is also Indian, at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kan. on February 22.Madasani and Ian Grillot, a 24-year-old white male who was shot by Purinton as he tried to intervene, both survived the attack and were hospitalized with injuries.
According to the Kansas City Star, a witness said the gunman shouted, “Get out of my country” before firing at the Indian victims.
People voiced outrage on social media, indicating that President Donald Trump’s “America First” position on immigration and jobs has fueled a climate of intolerance.
From ‘Absurd’ to ‘Racially Motivated’
President Trump also faced criticism for not immediately making public comments about the fatal Kansas shooting.On Tuesday morning, Grillot, who tried to stop Purinton from shooting the men, called on Trump to address the crime in his speech to Congress.
Ian Grillot (right) was shot while trying to prevent the racially motivated shooting in Kansas.
“I would like to hear him address it because it is a very sensitive subject right now,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Shortly after, Sarah Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, called the attack “racially motivated”:
“As more facts come to light and it begins to look like this was an act of racially motivated hatred, I want to reiterate the president condemns these or any other racially or religiously motivated attacks in the strongest terms. They have no place in our country.”
Trump began his address to Congress on Tuesday night by condemning both the recent Jewish Community Center incidents and the Kansas shooting six days after it happened.
“Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms,” Trump said.
But initially the White House and its spokesman Sean Spicer were unwilling to have a discussion on being “a nation divided on policies.”
On Friday the White House barred news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Politico and CNN, from a press gaggle. The Washington Post recorded audio from that briefing, and a reporter asked Spicer if there was any concern that the president’s recent rhetoric could have contributed to Purinton’s actions in Kansas.
Spicer said it would be it would be “absurd” to link the killing to Trump’s rhetoric.
“Any loss of life is tragic but I’m not going to get into that kind of to suggest that there’s any correlation I think is a bit absurd, so I’m not going to get any further than that,” he said.
‘We’re all humans’
At Austins Bar and Grill on the night of the shooting, Purinton became agitated with Kuchibhotla and Madasani and began being disruptive. So Grillot, a regular at the establishment, asked Purinton to leave.
“He said [to Grillot], ‘Why are you standing up for them’ He emphasized ‘them,’ as if ‘them’ was a derogatory term,” a witness, Jeremy Luby, told CNN.
Purinton left the bar but returned and opened fire, killing Kuchibhotla and wounding Madasani and Grillot.
Kuchibhotla’s wife, identified by media as Sunayana Dumala, told reporters Friday that the gunman “has taken a life, a very lovable soul, from everyone.”
According to KMBC, on Thursday Madasani visited Grillot in his hospital room.
“It was the greatest thing,” said Grillot, who was shot in the hand and chest. “I can’t even describe it. Come to find out his wife is five months pregnant something was guiding me to do what I did. And somebody was watching over me and him.
“A lot of people are calling me a hero and this and that and the other, and it’s not like that. I was just doing what anyone should have done for another human being. It’s not about where he’s from or his ethnicity. We’re all humans. So I just felt I did what was naturally right to do.”
Purinton’s bond remains set at $2 million, and the next court date is March 9.If convicted of the state murder charges, he faces a life sentence without eligibility for parole for 50 years.
News of the shooting shocked the victim’s home country. Pratik Mathur, spokesman for the Indian embassy in Washington, said India had expressed “our deep concern over the incident” to the U.S. government and requested a “thorough and speedy investigation.”