FBI investigating shootings of Indian men in Kansas as hate crime

The White House condemns the shooting attack in a Kansas bar that left one Indian man dead and another wounded as an apparent act of "racially motivated hatred."

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Adam Purinton appears with his public defender via video conference from jail during his initial court appearance in Olathe, Kansas, US, February 27, 2017.

The deadly shooting of an Indian engineer and wounding of his co-worker last Wednesday at a bar in Kansas is being investigated as a hate crime, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed, and Alok Madasani, both 32, worked as engineers at US company Garmin, which makes navigational devices. They were at Austin's Bar and Grill in Olathe, a Kansas City suburb, when the shootings occurred.

Another man, Ian Grillot, was wounded when he chased after the suspect, US Navy veteran Adam Purinton, 51, who has been charged in the shootings.

Purinton's attorney, Michael McCulloch, could not be reached for comment.

"Based upon the initial investigative activity, the FBI, in conjunction with the US Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, is investigating this incident as a hate crime," the FBI said in a statement.

The agency said it would work with the Olathe Police Department and state and local partners regarding the investigation.

Alok Madasani, victim of the Austin's Bar shooting, listens as Maggie Grillot, sister to shooting victim Ian Grillot, addresses a prayer vigil on February 26, 2017 at the Ball Conference Center in Olathe, Kansas. (AFP/Archive)

The Kansas City Star newspaper reported that at least one bystander said Purinton shouted "Get out of my country" before opening fire.

The shooting received international attention and in India some suggested on social media that a climate of intolerance in the United States had been fueled by President Donald Trump's statements on immigration.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Friday that it was absurd to link the killing to Trump's "America First" stance.

After criticism that Donald Trump had not spoken about the attack, the White House said on Tuesday that the US president did indeed condemn the attack. 

"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" said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders. "They have no place in our country."

The Indian Embassy in Washington previously expressed concern to the US government over the shooting and requested a thorough investigation. Officials there could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

K. Madhusudhana Sastry (2nd R), father of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, is consoled during his son's funeral at a crematorium in Hyderabad, India, February 28, 2017. (Reuters)

Dozens of people gathered in the Indian city of Hyderabad on Tuesday for the funeral of Kuchibhotla.

Purinton was arrested at an Applebee's restaurant in Clinton, Missouri, about 80 miles (130 km) south of Olathe hours after the shooting.

According to a recording of a 911 call made by a bartender at the Applebee's, Purinton said he needed to hide because he had killed two Iranian men, local NBC affiliate KSHB-TV reported.


TRTWorld and agencies