By Brendan O'Brien and Aditya Kalra
| MILWAUKEE/NEW DELHI
MILWAUKEE/NEW DELHI A Kansas man has been charged with killing an Indian software engineer and wounding two other men when he opened fire in a bar in what federal authorities probed on Friday as a possible hate crime that shocked the victim's home country.The shooting led news bulletins in India and triggered outrage on social media, where people voiced concern that U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" position on immigration and jobs has fueled a climate of intolerance.Navy veteran Adam Purinton, 51, was charged on Thursday in Johnson County, Kansas, with one count of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder, District Attorney Stephen Howe told reporters.He declined to elaborate on the details of the incident or the motive for the shooting.The FBI was investigating whether it was a hate crime. Federal agents joined police to canvass the area on Thursday, FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said, and were continuing their investigation on Friday. Purinton is accused of shooting and killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and wounding Alok Madasani, also 32, in Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, on Wednesday evening, the city's police department said in a statement.At least one bystander told the Kansas City Star the man shouted "get out of my country" before shooting the Indian victims. He 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 to the hand and chest. " ... I was just doing what anyone should have done for any other human being."
The suspect fled on foot and was arrested without incident five hours later at an Applebee's restaurant in Clinton, Missouri. He reportedly told an employee there that he needed a place to hide because he had killed two Middle Eastern men, the Star reported.Purinton was being held on a $2 million bond at the Henry County Jail.At Kuchibhotla's family home near the Indian tech hub of Hyderabad, relatives backed government calls to ensure the safety of Indians living in the United States. "The government should voice out this strongly because our brothers, sisters and our relatives are there," the victim's brother, Venu Madhav, told Reuters Television.
Many Indians initially welcomed Trump's election, reading his calls to restrict Muslim immigration as signaling support for Hindu-majority India. The nation has been at odds for decades with Pakistan, its mainly Muslim neighbor.But the Trump administration may also have skilled Indian workers like Kuchibhotla in mind as it considers curbing the H-1B visa program, worrying both India's $150 billion IT services industry and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government."Don't be shocked! Be angry!" Siddharth, a well-known South Indian actor who uses one name, tweeted to his 2.6 million followers in remarks echoed across social media. "Trump is spreading hate. This is a hate crime! RIP #SrinivasKuchibhotla."
Kavipriya Muthuramalingam, a friend and former colleague of the victim, has raised more than $250,000 via a crowd-funding website to help with funeral and other expenses.He said his friend was one of the nicest, most gentle people one could hope to meet. "He was non-confrontational, non-controversial, easy-going, always smiling," Muthuramalingam said.Kuchibhotla received a master's in electronics from the University of Texas in El Paso in 2007, according to LinkedIn. He was married but had no children.His Facebook page, where he called himself "Srinu," said that in 2014 he joined the Kansas office of Switzerland-based navigation device maker Garmin from Rockwell Collins Inc.Flags at Garmin's offices flew at half-staff on Friday, Kansas City local TV news reported. Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj tweeted that she was "shocked" at the shooting. Two officials from the Indian consulate in Houston were going to Kansas to meet with the injured men and police, her ministry said.The U.S. embassy in New Delhi condemned the shooting, saying in a statement that the United States welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study and live. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
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Updated Date: Feb 24, 2017 21:21:29 IST