WASHINGTON: An Indian engineer was killed and two others injured when an American man opened fire on them after allegedly yelling “get out of my country”, with the local police calling it as a “possible hate crime”.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, working at the Garmin headquarters in Olathe, was killed in the shooting on Wednesday night, while another Indian and his colleague Alok Madasani was critically injured. According to latest reports, Madasani has been discharged.
One other identified as Ian Grillot was also injured in the shooting.
The accused, Adam Purinton, 51, was arrested on Thursday morning, five hours after the incident.
“It was a tragic and senseless act of violence,” Olathe Police Chief Steven Menke told reporters.
According to local media reports, he yelled “get out of my country” at the Indians.
Purinton, a navy veteran, later reportedly told a bartender in Clinton, Missouri, where he was hiding that he killed two Middle Eastern persons, the Kansas City Star said.
The Indian Embassy has swung into action and two senior officials of the Indian Consulate in Houston have been sent to Kansas to assist the victims’ families.
“Consul Ravindra Joshi and Vice Consul Harpal Singh rushed to Kansas to assist shooting victim. They are on their way and will reach by evening,” the consulate said in a tweet.
The accused has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder and his bond has been set at USD 2 million.
According to Garmin, Kuchibhotla and Madasani worked in the company’s aviation systems.
“We’re saddened that two Garmin associates were involved in last night’s (Wednesday night) incident, and we express our condolences to the family and friends of our co-workers involved. Garmin will have grievance counsellors on-site and available for its associates today and tomorrow,” Garmin said in a statement.
The alleged hate crime has sent shocked waves among Indian-American and the Indian community across the United States.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Srinivas Kuchibhotla,” said Jay Kansara, director of Government Relations at Hindu American Foundation.
“We are also praying for a speedy recovery for the injured. We call upon the US Department of Justice and local law enforcement to investigate this murder as what it is, a hate crime.
“Anything less will be an injustice to the victims and their families,” he said.
Kansara said that the HAF thanks those who put themselves at risk to stop this attack or to bring the perpetrator to justice.
“It is these acts of heroism in our communities that make America great,” he said.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help raise funds for sending Kuchibhotla’s remains to India.
The shooting incident comes at a time when hate crimes and acts of bigotry have risen notably during the recent months in America.
A Jewish cemetery was vandalised in St Louis, Missouri last week and the offices of Jewish civil society organisations have received bomb threats.
A man was removed from a Chicago-Houston flight after levelling racist taunts at Pakistani and Indian passengers.