An Indian engineer was killed and two others were injured after an American yelling "get out of my country" opened fire on them in a crowded bar in Olathe, Kansas in an apparent hate crime incident.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla (32), who was working at GPS-maker Garmin headquarters in Olathe, was killed while another Indian and his colleague Alok Madasani was critically injured after a 51-year-old Navy veteran started shooting hurling racial slurs following an altercation on Wednesday night.
A third person, an American identified as Ian Grillot 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. The shooter reportedly provoked them into 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.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expressed shock over the incident and said two Indian Embassy officials have been rushed to Kansas to render all possible assistance.
"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. "The Indian Embassy officials 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. They will also meet the community members in Kansas," Swarup said.
According to Garmin, Kuchibhotla and Madasani worked in the company's aviation systems.
"We're saddened that two Garmin associates were involved in last night's (Wednesday night) incident, and we express our condolences to the family and friends of our co-workers involved. Garmin will have grievance counsellors on-site and available for its associates today and tomorrow," Garmin said in a statement. .
According to the The Kansas City Star, Adam Purinton, 51, was arrested at an Applebee’s bar where he’d been drinking five hours after the shooting. He reportedly told the bartender—who called police—that he needed to hide out. According to the Star, at least one witness heard Purinton yell “get out of my country” shortly before shooting two men he believed to be Middle Eastern. As it turns out, the two victims—Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who died from his injuries; and Alok Madasani—appear to be of Indian descent and worked as aviation systems engineers at Garmin. A third victim, Ian Grillot, was shot in the hand and shoulder while reportedly trying to defend the other victims. Read the report in Kansas City Star.
The United States Embassy in New Delhi strongly condemned the "tragic shooting in Olathe, Kansas resulting in the death of an Indian citizen and injury to an Indian and an American. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Kuchibhotla. We share their grief, and wish a full and speedy recovery to those who were injured.”
Austins Bar and Grill posted a message of "empathy for the victims and families of this tragic event” on their Facebook page, saying they "have never experienced any sort of tragedy like this in our 30 years. For all of our loyal friends and patrons, we want to thank you for your ongoing support.
By Seema Hakhu Kachru in Houston and Lalit K Jha in Washington for PTI; with inputs from NH Web Desk