Kansas Man Faces Possible Hate Crime Charges For Killing Indian Immigrant

By Sameer Rao Feb 24, 2017

A White Kansas resident faces murder and potential hate crime charges for killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian immigrant. Adam Purinton also wounded two other patrons at an Olathe, Kansas, bar on Wednesday evening (February 22).

According to the The Kansas City Star, Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe announced three first-degree murder charges—one premeditated, two attempted—against Purinton during a press conference yesterday (February 23). Unidentified witnesses told the Star that Purinton taunted Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani—a fellow Indian immigrant who worked with Kuchibhotla at nearby technology company Garmin—with racist slurs prior to the shooting. One bystander reported that Purinton said, "Get out of my country," before opening fire.

The Star reports that Kuchibhotla died from his wounds at University of Kansas Hospital. Sushma Swaraj, India’s minister of external affairs, tweeted yesterday evening that Madasani has been discharged. Ian Grillot, who told The Associated Press from a hospital bed that he was shot while trying to intervene, remained hospitalized as of yesterday.

Local station KSHB reported yesterday that Purinton was arrested across state lines in Clinton, Missouri, nearly five hours after the shooting. The Star added that a bartender at the Applebee’s restaurant where police found Purinton reportedly called 911 after Purinton said he needed to hide after shooting two "Middle Eastern" men. The paper also  reported today (February 24) that Purinton was successfully extradited to Kansas and will appear in court on Monday.

Kansas City-based FBI agent Eric Johnson said during the press conference that the Bureau will investigate the shooting with the Olathe Police Department (OPD). Although he said the FBI and OPD must gather more information before the regional U.S. attorney’s office announces possible hate crime or other federal charges, Johnson told The New York Times that "it’s not uncommon for hate crime investigations to be conducted jointly by the FBI and local law enforcement and prosecuted under the state law."

The shooting caused controversy in Kuchibhotla and Madasani’s country of origin. The U.S. embassy in India released a statement today condemning the shooting. Madasani’s father suggested to the Times that President Donald Trump‘s policies and rhetoric against immigrants may be promoting violence. Both the FBI and Southern Poverty Law Center described an increase in hate crimes following Trump’s election. 

A GoFundMe set up to help Kuchibhotla’s family with expenses in the United States and India raised more than $411,000 as of press time.