While the Trump administration is keeping the incident low-key, there is outrage in the US-Indian community
London : With reports emerging of the gunman harassing the two Indian engineers before opening fire at a Kansas bar killing one man, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is probing whether the shooting could be a possible hate crime.
Adam W Purinton was charged with murder for shooting Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and his friend Alok Madasani, 32, at the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas.
Kuchibhotla died in the hospital from his injuries, and Madasani has been released from the hospital.
At least one witness told the Kansas City Star that the gunman yelled “go back to your country” before opening fire.
Police apprehended Purinton at an Applebee’s about 80 miles away in Clinton, Missouri, after being tipped off by a bartender at the restaurant, who said Purinton told them he had been involved in the shooting.
The entire development, which has raised a massive outage in India, has questioned the White House’s rhetoric around immigration, which has promoted Donald Trump’s “America First” position on allowing people into the country.
However, White House press secretary, Sean Spicer categorically stated that it would be absurd to link the shooting to Trump’s rhetoric and that it was too early to determine the motive.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that before shooting the two Indian engineers in a Kansas bar, the shooter held a brief conversation with them inquiring about their visas.
In a brief phone interview to the New York Times, Madasani described the remarks made on Wednesday by the accused, Adam W. Purinton, a Navy Veteran, sitting near them at the restaurant.
“He asked us what visa are we currently on and whether we are staying here illegally,” Madasani said. (Both men were educated in the United States and were working here legally.)
“We didn’t react. People do stupid things all the time. This guy took it to the next level,” said Madasani.
Other customers present at the time of incident said that Purinton was tossing ethnic slurs at the two men and suggesting they did not belong in the United States.
Madasani said he went in to get a manager, and by the time he returned to the patio, the man was being escorted out.
But a short time later, he came back in a rage and fired on the two men, the authorities said. Kuchibhotla was killed, and Madasani was wounded, along with a 24-year-old man who had tried to apprehend the gunman, who fled.
Purinton, 51, was later extradited to Kansas from Missouri on Friday, and charged with premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder.
The possible hate crime has raised new alarms about a climate of hostility toward foreigners in the United States, where President Donald Trump has made clamping down on immigration a central plank of his “America first” agenda.
Meanwhile, the White House strongly rejected the notion that there might be any connection between the shooting and the new administration’s sharp language about immigration.
Madasani, who has been released from the hospital, said he was recovering physically and mentally. “I’m definitely doing much better, but it’s not over yet,” he said.