February 24, 2017 / 7:25 AM / 5 months ago

Kansas man charged in shooting of two Indians in possible hate crime

4 Min Read

Feb 23 (Reuters) - A Kansas man was charged on Thursday with fatally shooting an Indian man and wounding another Indian man and an American in a bar, as federal authorities investigated the incident as a possible hate crime.

Adam Purinton, 51, was charged in Johnson County, Kansas with one count of premeditated first degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first degree murder, Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe told a news conference.

Purinton is accused of shooting and killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and wounding Alok Madasani, 32, in the Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, on Wednesday evening, according to a statement from the Olathe Police Department.

At least one bystander told the Kansas City Star that the man shouted "get out of my country" before shooting the Indian men. He is also accused of wounding American Ian Grillot, 24, who was shot when he tried to intervene, the Kansas City Star reported.

Two officials from the Indian consulate in Houston were dispatched to Kansas where they planned to meet the injured men and police to "ascertain more details of the incident and monitor follow up action," India's Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup said in a statement.

"I am shocked at the shooting incident in Kansas in which Srinivas Kuchibhotla has been killed. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved family," Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said in a Tweet.

The U.S. embassy in New Delhi condemned the shooting.

"The United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study, and live," U.S. Chargé d’Affaires MaryKay Carlson said in a statement.

"U.S. authorities will investigate thoroughly and prosecute the case, though we recognize that justice is small consolation to families in grief."

Howe would not elaborate on the details of the incident or the motive for the shooting.

"We want to be able to be sure about our facts versus speculation. So we are not prepared at this point to talk about the particular facts of the case because this is still very fresh," Howe said.

The FBI was investigating whether the incident was a hate crime.

"We are looking at whether the crime was committed via bias motivation. We are really at the preliminary stage at looking at every aspect," said Eric Jackson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Kansas City Field Office, during the news conference.

The U.S. attorney office in Kansas and the U.S. Department of Justice will also evaluate the case as more evidence is gathered, Tom Beall, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Kansas said, the Kansas City Star reported.

Kuchibhotla and Madasani were engineers who worked at Garmin as members of the Aviation Systems Engineering team, the Star reported.

“We’re saddened that two Garmin associates were involved in last night’s incident, and we express our condolences to the family and friends of our co-workers involved," the company said in a statement, according to the newspaper. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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