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Feds Say Kansas Shooting of Indian Men Was Hate Crime

Investigators believe Adam Purinton shot Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani based on "actual and perceived race, color, religion, and national orientation."
June 9, 2017, 10:00pm
Photo by David Eulitt /The Kansas City Star via AP, Pool

On Friday, the Department of Justice announced that it would be slapping 52-year-old Adam Purinton with multiple hate crime charges for a fatal shooting at a Kansas bar back in February. Authorities believe the shooting—which killed one man of Indian descent, and wounded another—was motivated based on "actual and perceived race, color, religion, and national orientation."

In February, Purinton allegedly open fired at 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla and 32-year-old Alok Madasani at Austin's Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas. According to the Kansas City Star, at least one witness heard Purinton yell "get out of my country" before shooting at the two men. Ian Grillot, a bar patron, tried to intervene, but was shot and later hospitalized along with Madasani. Kuchibhotla died in the hospital.

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After the shooting, Purinton fled on foot and reportedly told a bartender at a nearby Applebee's that he had just killed two men who he believed were Iranian, according to the Washington Post. Purinton was then arrested and charged with first-degree murder and attempted premeditated murder.

"This was a violent crime and we want the best prosecution that relates to this because there are victims of this crime and we want the community to know that," FBI special agent Eric Jackson said after the arrest. "We're looking to make sure that the individual involved in this is held accountable for his actions."

Now, following the FBI's investigation with the Olathe Police Department, Purinton is facing two federal hate crime charges—for Kuchibhotla's murder and Madasani's attempted murder—as well as a federal firearm violation for shooting Grillot. If found guilty, Purinton could spend his life behind bars, or face the death penalty, though it's not clear yet if the DOJ will seek that punishment.

The Kansas shooting was just one in an uptick of hate-fueled incidents the US has seen since the divisive November election. At the end of May, two men in Portland were stabbed to death after trying to protect two Muslim women on the city's light-rail train from a man shouting Islamophobic remarks.

Back in February, the White House condemned the Kansas shooting, denouncing the incident as "racially motivated hatred," but press secretary Sean Spicer has denied that there was any correlation between the president's rhetoric around his controversial travel ban and the shooting.

"Any loss of life is tragic," he said at a press conference. "But I'm not going to get into, like, that kind of––to suggest that there's any correlation, I think is a bit absurd."