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Kansas murder of Indian techie: From funds to prayers, here’s how US reacted

The killing of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in a bar in Texas has left residents of the US city in shock and elicited a spontaneous show of solidarity with the victim of the apparent hate crime.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2017 14:17 IST
Hindustan Times, Kansas
Indian engineer killed,Kansas,Donald Trump
An undated photo shows killed Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla with his wife Sunayana Dumala in Las Vegas. (AP)

The killing of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in an apparent hate crime in Kansas City left residents in shock and a majority of people in Olathe saying, “we are not like this”.

Events leading up to the incident on Wednesday evening also show that despite rising hate crimes across the country, many had stood up for the two Indians – Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani – when 51-year-old US navy veteran Adam Purinton tossed racial abuses before opening fire.

Here’s how Kansas residents responded during and after the fatal shooting:

Friends at the bar

Kuchibhotla and Madasani, both 32, were enjoying an after-work drink in their regular bar when the accused started abusing them using racial slurs. Purinton as soon thrown out after other patrons complained.

Jeremy Luby, 41, a software developer, said he offered to pick up the tab for the two men, who thanked him during a brief conversation about work and cultural differences. “It was wrong what happened to them,” Luby said. “I thought it was a nice gesture to say, ‘I’m sorry someone was being rude to you like that’.”

After the shooting began, another patron, Ian Grillot, 24, said he tried to count the shots while he hid under a table. Thinking the gunman had run out of ammunition, Grillot said, he confronted him, only to be shot in the hand and the chest.

“People call me a hero…I was just doing what anyone should have done for any other human being,” Grillot said in a video released by the hospital where he received treatment.

Kansas raises funds for victims

Three GoFundMe sites started for Kuchibhotla and the two injured have raised a total of more than $670,000 so far.

As of Friday, the site for Kuchibhotla, whose funeral will be in India, had “$496,196 out of $150 k”. A second combined campaign for Kuchibhotla and Madasani had close to $61,000 and a third site for Grillot was up to more than $200,000.

“Srini was the kindest person you would meet, full of love, care and compassion for everyone. He never uttered a word of hatred, a simple gossip, or a careless comment. He was brilliant, well mannered and simply an outstanding human being.

“His wife Sunayana and his family are now faced with incredible grief and a multitude of expenses,” said a tribute on a page created by Kuchibhotla’s friend Kavipriya Muthuramalingam.

Click here to donate

“We’ve set up this fund to help them with the funeral expenses and other ongoing grief/recovery support costs. This includes the very expensive process of carrying his mortal remains back to India, so his parents can say goodbye one last time to their beloved son.”

Another page was set up by a man in Shawnee, Kansas, who is not related to either of the victims or their families but was said to be upset about what appeared to be “a vicious hate crime.”

“Madasani will likely face extensive medical bills and the family of Kuchibhotla will now have to deal with the death of their beloved son, both financially and emotionally,” Brian Eric Ford wrote on the page.

“Let’s send a message that we will support those who are targeted — and stand against all who wish to spread hate — by raising funds to help the victims of this horrendous act of senseless violence.”

Prayers for the dead and injured

Residents of a Kansas City suburb gathered at a church to honour Kuchibhotla.

About 400 people sang, prayed and lit candles on Friday night at the First Baptist Church in Olathe, Kansas and those in attendance described the community as “tight-knit” and one that embraces diversity.

Mayor Michael Copeland encouraged people to come together and said, “One evil act does not divide a united community.”

The church offered counseling services and created a “hope banner” to use at a march scheduled for Sunday.

A message of hope

Senator Jerry Moran left a message with Olathe’s mayor, offering to help assure people from India who live in Kansas that the actions leading to Kuchibhotla’s death are “not the norm”.

“This is not the nature of Kansas, and we welcome people to the United States, particularly a company like Garmin and many others,” the Kansas Republican said.

The owner of the bar where Kuchibhotla was fatally shot said it will do anything it can to support the victims.

Owner Brandon Blum wrote on the website for Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas, that the staff’s “thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims”.

First Published: Feb 25, 2017 11:35 IST