US Navy veteran charged over Indian death
By Dave Kaup and Aditya Kalra - AAP on February 25, 2017, 2:05 pm
A white US Navy veteran has been charged with killing an engineer from India and wounding two other men when he opened fire in a Kansas bar in what federal authorities say could be a possible hate crime that has shocked the victim's home country.
The shooting on Wednesday night led news bulletins in India and triggered outrage on social media, where people voiced concern that US President Donald Trump's "America First" position on immigration and jobs has fuelled a climate of intolerance.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Friday that any loss of life was tragic, but it would be absurd to link the killing to Trump's rhetoric.
Pratik Mathur, spokesman for the Indian embassy in Washington, said India had expressed "our deep concern over the incident" to the US government and requested a "thorough and speedy investigation."
Adam Purinton, 51, was charged on Thursday with one count of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder, District Attorney Stephen Howe told reporters.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking at whether it was a hate crime, the official term for crimes motivated by bias or prejudice.
If convicted of the state murder charges, Purinton faces a life sentence without eligibility for parole for 50 years, Howe said.
Purinton is accused of killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and wounding Alok Madasani, also 32, in Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, on Wednesday evening, police said. At least one bystander told the Kansas City Star the gunman shouted "get out of my country" before shooting the Indian victims.
Purinton is also accused of wounding American Ian Grillot, 24, who was shot as he tried to intervene.
"People call me a hero," Grillot said in a video released by the hospital where he was undergoing treatment for gunshot wounds. "I was just doing what anyone should have done for any other human being."
Kuchibhotla's wife, identified by media as Sunayana Dumala, told reporters on that the gunman "has taken a life, a very lovable soul, from everyone."
Kuchibhotla received a master's in electronics from the University of Texas in El Paso in 2007, according to LinkedIn. His Facebook page said he joined the Kansas office of Switzerland-based navigation device maker Garmin Ltd in 2014.
Flags at Garmin's offices flew at half-staff on Friday and the company said it was devastated by the tragedy.
Dozens of people attended a Friday evening candle-light vigil at a church in Olathe and hundreds of thousands of dollars has been raised through crowdfunding sites for the victims.
The suspect fled on foot and was arrested five hours later at a restaurant in Clinton, Missouri. He reportedly told an employee there he needed a place to hide because he had killed two Middle Eastern men, the Star reported.