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Man who tried to save Indian engineers in bar shooting speaks out
‘I was just doing what anyone should’ve done for another human being.’
A Kansas man has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder after telling two Indian nationals to “get out of my country,” before shooting at them, killing one, then shooting an American who proceeded to intervene.
51-year-old Adam W. Purinton shot at 32-year-old Indian men Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, then later shot 24-year-old Ian Grillot, who tried to take Purinton’s gun away. Kuchibhotla died in the hospital that evening from his wounds. According to the Washington Post, Madasani was released from a hospital on Thursday and Grillot is still in recovery as of Friday.
The shooting took place at a bar called Austin’s Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas, on Wednesday evening. According to the Kansas City Star, Kuchibhotla and Madasani, both engineers at Garmin, had been at the bar for 30 minutes. At the time, Ian Grillot, an American who is a regular at the bar, was in the parking lot.
Witnesses say Purinton, a Navy veteran and former pilot and air traffic controller, was drinking and throwing racial slurs at Kuchibhotla and Madasani. Purinton was thought to have been kicked out of the bar, but then returned, saying, “Get out of my country,” before opening fire on the two men.
In a video interview released by the University of Kansas Health, Grillot said he ducked behind a table when he heard the shots, but counted them and thought the gun’s magazine to be empty.
Grillot chased after Purinton and approached him from behind to try and detain him for police. That’s when Purinton shot at him, the bullets passing through his chest, fracturing his vertebrae and neck.
“I was just doing what anyone should’ve done for another human being,” Grillot said in the video. “It’s not about where he’s from or his ethnicity. We’re all humans. I just felt like I did what was naturally right to do.”
After the shooting, Purinton fled 70 miles to Clinton, Missouri, where he stopped at an Applebee’s. He told the bartender that he needed a place to hide because he had just killed two “Middle Eastern” men, causing the bartender to call the police. Police arrested him five hours after the shooting.
GoFundMe campaigns have already been set up for Kuchibhotla’s family, for both Madasani and Kuchibhotla, and a third for Grillot. In total, the three campaigns have raised more than $640,000 for the men.
Authorities investigating the shooting haven’t classified it as a hate crime, but said they’re working with local police to see if the shooting was “bias motivated.”
However, the Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is already calling for hate crime charges against Purinton. Two diplomats from the Indian Consulate in Houston and Dallas had rushed to Kansas to assist, according to India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
The Hindu American Foundation claimed that Kuchibhotla’s murder is the first reported bias-motivated fatality in the U.S. “after the bitter presidential election” of Donald Trump. Reuters reported that the shooting death sparked outrage across social media in India.
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
Another story from Reuters highlights the narrative of a destroyed American dream, with Kuchibhotla being one of the many eager Indians who travel to the U.S. to seek a better education. After Kuchibhotla earned his bachelor’s degree in India, he studied at the University of Texas at El Paso for his master’s degree.
“The government should voice this out strongly, because our brothers, sisters, and our relatives are there,” Venu Madhav, Kuchibhotla’s brother, told Reuters.
The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi has also released a statement condemning the shooting, calling it “a tragic and senseless act.”
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Kuchibhotla,” the statement reads. “We share their grief, and wish a full and speedy recovery to those who were injured… The United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study, and live.”
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.