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'Do we belong here?' wife of Indian man shot dead in Kansas had asked

Speaking at a news conference organised by GPS-maker Garmin where her husband worked, Sunayana Dumala said reports of bias in the US make minorities afraid. Photograph: (Others)

PTI Houston, TX, United States Feb 25, 2017, 04.21 AM (IST)

The wife of Srinivas Kuchibhotla who was shot dead in a Kansas bar had expressed doubts about staying in America but had been reassured by her husband that "good things happen in America". 

Speaking at a press conference organised by GPS maker Garmin, where Kuchibhotla worked, his widow Sunayana Dumala said reports of bias in the US make minorities afraid. And had led her to ask: "Do we belong here?"

There was no one to reassure her this time for on Wednesday night, her husband, 32, was shot dead by a US navy veteran who shouted "Get out of my country" and "terrorist" before opening fire.

Adam Purinton, 51, also injured a friend of Kuchibhotla's, Alok Madasani, 32, and American Ian Grillot, 24, who had tried to intervene.  

Purinton has been charged with one count of premeditated murder and two counts of premeditated attempted murder. 

At the press conference, Sunayana wondered what the US government will do to stop hate crimes.

So far, the answer for anybody who does not fit the conventional definition of "American" has been less than encouraging.

Most people draw a link between Donald Trump's ascension to the presidency and his divisive rhetoric about immigrants, Muslims, and African Americans and the increase in attacks on immigrants. 

On Friday however, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said it would be "absurd" to draw a link between the Trump presidency and the attack that killed Srinivas.

"Obviously, any loss of life is tragic, but I'm not going to get into, like, to suggest that there's any correlation I think is a bit absurd. So I'm not going to go any further than that," he said.  

Purinton had fled on foot after the shooting and was captured five hours later at an Applebee's restaurant in Clinton, Missouri. Apparently, he told an employee there that he needed a place to hide because he had shot two middle eastern men. 

Sunayana wondered what the US government will do to stop hate crimes
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Consul General of India in Houston Anupam Ray is supervising the current situation and providing all possible help for the grieving family and the community in the Olathe area of Kansas.

"Immediately when the incident occurred, Consulate rushed Deputy Consul R D Joshi and Vice Consul H Singh to Kansas to be with the family of Srinivas at this trying moment," Ray told PTI.

Ever since, they have been with the family of Srinivas and have assured Sunayna of all possible support and help at this grieving moment, he said.

Consul Joshi also met the shocked and frightened Indian community in Olathe and Alok Madasani injured in the shooting on Wednesday night.

Madasani is now stable and has been discharged from the hospital.

A third person, an American man identified as Ian Grillot, 24, who tried to intervene also received injuries in the firing at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe in Kansas City in the US state of Missouri.

A University of Kansas Hospital spokeswoman said he is in fair condition.

The incident evoked outrage from in the US and India with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expressing shock over the incident.

"I am shocked at the shooting incident in Kansas in which Srinivas Kuchibhotla has been killed. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved family," she said in a tweet yesterday.

The shooter, Adam Purinton, reportedly got into an argument with the victims in terms of racism, and shouted "get out of my country", "terrorist" before shooting them.

He reportedly provoked them into an argument asking about their presence and work in his country, and how they are better than him. 

According to police, Purinton left the bar after the argument and then returned with a gun and shot the three men.

He was arrested on Thursday, five hours after the incident and charged with one count of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder in Johnson County, Kansas, District Attorney Stephen Howe told reporters.

Howe, however, declined to elaborate on the motive of the incident, although local police said they were working with the FBI to investigate the case. The FBI was looking at whether it was a hate crime.

An FBI spokesperson said agents and police canvassed the area on Thursday and the investigation continued yesterday.

Some eye-witnesses have said the attack was racially motivated.

One bystander told the Kansas City Star that the gunman shouted "get out of my country" before shooting the Indian victims.

Grillot said in a recorded interview on Thursday that the bullet went through his right hand and into his chest, just missing a major artery but fracturing a vertebra in his neck.

The shooting incident comes at a time when hate crimes and acts of bigotry have risen notably in America after President Donald Trump came to power.

According to Garmin, Kuchibhotla and Madasani worked in the company's aviation systems.

"Unfortunately, two associates on our Aviation Systems Engineering team, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, were shot. We are devastated to inform you that Srinivas passed away and Alok is currently recovering in the hospital," Garmin said.

Kuchibhotla and Madasani hailed from Hyderabad and Warangal respectively.

Kuchibhotla posted on LinkedIn in 2014 that he managed helicopter programmes. He had a master's degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the University of Texas at El Paso. He earned his bachelor's degree from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad.

A 2014 post on LinkedIn said Madasani was an aviation programme coordinator manager at Garmin.

(WION with inputs from PTI)

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