An Indian engineer was killed and two others injured when an American man opened fire on them after allegedly yelling "get out of my country", with the local police calling it as a "possible hate crime".
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, working at the Garmin headquarters in Olathe, was killed in the shooting on Wednesday night, while another Indian and his colleague Alok Madasani was critically injured and is battling for life at a local hospital. One other identified as Ian Grillot was also injured in the shooting.
The accused, Adam Purinton, 51, was arrested on Thursday morning, five hours after the incident.
"It was a tragic and senseless act of violence," Olathe Police Chief Steven Menke told reporters. According to local media reports, he yelled "get out of my country" at the Indians.
Purinton, a navy veteran, later reportedly told a bartender in Clinton, Missouri, where he was hiding that he killed two Middle Eastern persons, the Kansas City Star said.
The Indian Embassy has swung into action and two senior officials of the Indian Consulate in Houston have been sent to Kansas to assist the victims' families. "Consul Ravindra Joshi and Vice Consul Harpal Singh rushed to Kansas to assist shooting victim. They are on their way and will reach by evening," the consulate said in a tweet.
— India in Houston (@cgihou) February 23, 2017
The accused has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder and his bond has been set at USD 2 million. 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 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.
Kuchibhotla is survived by his wife, Sunayana Dumala, who is also working in a technology company in Kansas. The victim was an aviation engineer at Olathe-based technology company Garmin. He graduated from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University with a bachelor of technology degree in electrical and electronics engineering in 2005, and did his master’s from the University of Texas El Paso, The Indian Express reported. He took a job as a software engineer at Rockwell Collins shortly after graduating, according to his LinkedIn page, and worked there until 2014, when he moved to Kansas to start a job at Garmin International. Srinivas Kuchibhotla was the kind of job candidate that every hiring manager wanted on his team,
He took a job as a software engineer at Rockwell Collins shortly after graduating, according to his LinkedIn page, and worked there until 2014, when he moved to Kansas to start a job at Garmin International. Srinivas Kuchibhotla was the kind of job candidate that every hiring manager wanted on his team, The Kansas City Star reported quoting Rod Larson.
According to The Kansas City Star, Rod Larson said that Srinivas was the top pick in 2007 for a software engineer position at Rockwell Collins, an avionics and information technology systems company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“He was very sharp. A top-of-his-class kind of guy,” Larson told The Kansas City Star. “His personality was exceptional. He was the kind of employee every manager would want. I couldn’t say anything slightly bad about Srinivas,” Larson said. “He was well-liked by anybody. He was excellent in all categories. He was a low-maintenance employee and did whatever was asked of him.”
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help raise funds for sending Kuchibhotla's remains to India. “Srini was the kindest person you would meet, full of love, care and compassion for everyone,” the site description read.
“He never uttered a word of hatred, a simple gossip, or a careless comment. He was brilliant, well mannered and simply an outstanding human being.”
The alleged hate crime has sent shocked waves among Indian-American and the Indian community across the United States.
Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister said that assistance will be provided to the victims.
Consul RD Joshi meeting with one of the victims of Kansas shooting. https://t.co/YRQmlvep22
— India in Houston (@cgihou) February 24, 2017
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Srinivas Kuchibhotla," said Jay Kansara, director of Government Relations at Hindu American Foundation.
"We are also praying for a speedy recovery for the injured. We call upon the US Department of Justice and local law enforcement to investigate this murder as what it is, a hate crime. Anything less will be an injustice to the victims and their families," he said.
Kansara said that the HAF thanks those who put themselves at risk to stop this attack or to bring the perpetrator to justice.
"It is these acts of heroism in our communities that make America great," he said.
The shooting incident comes at a time when hate crimes and acts of bigotry have risen notably during the recent months in America. A Jewish cemetery was vandalised in St Louis, Missouri last week and the offices of Jewish civil society organisations have received bomb threats. A man was removed from a Chicago-Houston flight after levelling racist taunts at Pakistani and Indian passengers.
The US 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," the site description read.
"We have reached out to Indian consular officials to offer full support as they assist the victims. We understand that the alleged shooter is in custody and is expected to be prosecuted for the crime. US Federal authorities are also investigating the case. We have full faith that US legal authorities will bring the case to justice."
Chargé d’Affaires MaryKay Carlson said, “We are deeply saddened by this tragic and senseless act. Our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families. The United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study, and live. U.S. authorities will investigate thoroughly and prosecute the case, though we recognize that justice is small consolation to families in grief.”
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Feb 24, 2017 10:51 am | Updated Date: Feb 24, 2017 01:18 pm