An Indian-born engineer was shot dead in a Kansas bar on Thursday, the authorities said, and witnesses told reporters that the gunman shouted “go back to your country” before opening fire.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and his friend Alok Madasani, both employees at tech company Garmin, were having a drink at a bar on Thursday when a man allegedly shouted racist slurs at the pair and started shooting. Adam Purinton, 51, was charged with murder. Kuchibhotla, who was an aviation systems engineer, died in the hospital. Madasani and Ian Grillot, a third man who had stepped in to defend the pair, were injured.
Adam Purinton. Photograph: Henry county sheriff's office/EPA
Eyewitnesses say he believed the victims were of Middle Eastern origin and shouted “go back to your country” before shooting. Authorities have not yet classified the attack as a hate crime.
Grillot, 24, was shot in the hand and chest as he tried to subdue Purinton.
“I got behind him and he turned around and fired a round at me,” he said, in a video from his hospital bed.
“I was just doing what anyone should have done for another human being. It’s not about where he’s from, we’re all humans.
“I’m grateful to be alive,” he said. “Another half inch and I could be dead or never walk again.”
The incident has sent shockwaves through India, which provides the US with some of its most skilled and highly educated workers. Sushma Swaraj, India’s minister of external affairs, tweeted:
I am shocked at the shooting incident in Kansas in which Srinivas Kuchibhotla has been killed. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved family.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) February 24, 2017
Madasani’s father was quoted by the Deccan Chronicle newspaper as saying: “After this nightmarish incident, do we really need to go to work in the US?”
The shooting has sparked widespread concern among Indian parents who have children living in the US. One parent, Sreemala, from Kuchibhotla’s home state of Telangana, told NewsMinute: “My daughter is working in the US. I have made it mandatory for her to call me twice a day after the recent incidents happening in US.
“Last week, she forgot to call me at night and her phone was unreachable. I cannot explain my situation in words. I couldn’t sleep the whole night. After Trump, it has become worse. Earlier, there used to be frequent robbery on the streets, but now they are shooting our children. How we are supposed to stay calm?”
In India, newspapers and television reports covered the Kansas shooting extensively, with editorials raising concerns about the safety of Indians in the US, and headlines labelling Grillot a hero.
Since Donald Trump’s election, Indians have also been alarmed by his remarks about tightening the H1-B visa programme for skilled foreign workers.
The Hindu American Foundation condemned the killing, saying: “The murder of Kuchibhotla is the first reported bias-motivated fatality in the United States after the bitter presidential election.”
The US embassy in Delhi also condemned the shooting. “The United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study and live,” the US chargé d’affaires, MaryKay Carlson, said in a statement.
“US authorities will investigate thoroughly and prosecute the case, though we recognise that justice is small consolation to families in grief.”
The Johnson county district attorney, Steve 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,” he said.
• The headline of this article has been clarified to reflect that the suspect has not been convicted and reports that he shouted ‘go back to your country’ were unconfirmed
Hate definitely has an ugly face ! Its pathetic how some people are taking matters into their own hands....Trump deporting immigrants will not cure your low self esteem.My deepest condolences to the engineer's family...Such a terrible loss. When will people get it that Indians are Hindu's and not Muslims? Doesn't even justify this senseless killing even if he was a Muslim. Its easy for them to judge by your looks but not the content of your character.