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Hate Crime Weighed in Shooting of Two Indian Engineers at Kansas Bar

Alok Madasani and his wife, Reepthi Gangula, hold candles during a vigil Feb. 26, 2017, at the Ball Conference Center in Olathe, Kansas. (Allison Long/The Kansas City Star via AP)

A man accused of killing an Indian immigrant and wounding another, along with a man who tried to intervene, in a Kansas bar Wednesday was due in court today as the FBI investigates whether he should be charged with a hate crime.

Adam Purinton, 51, is currently charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder for the shooting at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and Alok Madasani, 32, were engineers from India who were educated in the United States and were working at Garmin. Kuchibhotla died, while Madasani and bar partron Ian Grillot, 24, were wounded. Grillot tried to rush the shooter after counting the shots and believing he was out of bullets.

Madasani told the New York Times that Purinton was sitting near them on the restaurant’s patio shortly after 7 p.m. “He asked us what visa are we currently on and whether we are staying here illegally,” he said.

“We didn’t react,” Madasani added. “People do stupid things all the time. This guy took it to the next level.”

Madasani said he went to get a manager, and Purinton was being led out of the bar when he returned. Purinton later came back and started shooting. At least one witness reportedly told police the shooter yelled “get out of my country” before opening fire.

Hours after the shooting, Purinton walked into an Applebee’s in Clinton, Mo., and reportedly told the bartender he had just shot two Middle Eastern men and needed a place to hide. The bartender called police.

Kuchibhotla’s widow, Sunayana Dumala, said at a press conference Friday that she wants to stay in the United States, but first “I need an answer from the government. …What are they going to do to stop this hate crime?”

Kuchibhotla’s best friend, Madasani, has been released from the hospital. His wife, Reepthi Gangula, is expecting their first child.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Friday that “obviously any loss of life is tragic,” but he wouldn’t “get into, like, that kind of — to suggest that there’s any correlation” with President Trump’s rhetoric or immigration orders. “I think is a bit absurd,” Spicer said. “So I’m not going to go any further than that.”

Today, Spicer referenced his Friday remarks and said “while the story is evolving, early reports out of Kansas are … disturbing.” President Trump has not commented on the crime.

Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kansas), who represents Olathe, called the shooting “a senseless tragedy.”

“We have a vibrant Indian-American community in the Third District that values family, faith, and service and I’m lucky to call many of them my friends,” Yoder said in a statement last week. “Diverse political and religious views are what make our community great and I know all of the Third District is mourning this loss.”

Yoder later met with Madasani.

#OneOlathe I am so proud of the strong Indian community we have in the Third District. Tonight, at the Let us Stand Together Prayer Vigil, thousands of of concerned citizens came together to support one another and the Indian community in this time of great tragedy. I was able to visit with and encourage Alok Madasani, who survived the shooting last week. Among other things, we discussed his hope to get back to his favorite sports soon – including cricket. We also remembered the life of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who sadly passed last week, and the heroism of Ian Grillot, who is still in the hospital. Through prayer and thoughtful reflection, we focused on the unity of our community following this horrific attack. We must resolve to stand together to promote tolerance and support the rich diversity that makes our community so strong.

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