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Srinivas Kuchibhotla murder: US man indicted for hate crimes, could get death

Witnesses have said Adam Purinton, who is white, yelled “get out of my country” at two 32-year-old Indian nationals, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, before he began shooting at them, killing Kuchibhotla.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2017 20:48 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Srinivas Kuchibhotla,Adam Purinton,Indian immigrant
In this file photo, Adam Purinton, charged in the Olathe Austins bar shootings, appears in court.(AP File Photo)

The US justice department on Friday announced the indictment of Adam Purinton, a white man accused of killing Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, on federal hate crime charges that could get him the death penalty if he is found guilty.

Purintnon, 51, had opened fire on Kuchibhotla and Madasani — friends and colleagues at Garmin — at a bar in Olathe, Kansas on February 22, after using ethnic slurs at them and telling them to go back to their country. He had also shot at Ian Grillot, a white American who had tried to intervene.

The indictment accused Purinton of “shooting and killing” Kuchibhotla for his “actual and perceived race, colour, religion and national origin” and attempting to kill Madasani for his “his actual and perceived race, colour, religion and national origin”.

And a third count of indictment accused Purinton of violating “federal firearms statute by discharging a firearm” at them and Grillot.

‘I need an answer’: Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s wife holds press conference | Full transcript

Announcing the charges on Friday, the justice department said: “The indictment alleges that Purinton committed the offenses after substantial planning and premeditation, attempted to kill more than one person in a single criminal episode, and knowingly created a grave risk of death to others on the scene.

“The statute authorises a maximum penalty of death or life in prison; the justice department will determine at a later date whether, in this particular case, it will seek the death penalty.”

Kuchibhotla’s widow, Sunayana Dumala, who came to know of the indictment at a meeting with federal prosecutors on Friday, told the Kansas City Star: “I’m so glad that things are moving faster than we thought. I always had faith that justice would be served.”

Michael Copeland, mayor of Olathe, said in a written statement: “We believe the federal hate crime charge reflects the severity of this crime and is certainly appropriate.”

Purinton was earlier charged by local prosecutors with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder and has been held in a jail.

The shootings had sent shockwaves through the United States — which was then struggling with a sudden spike in hate crimes against minorities after Donald Trump was elected president — and India, where studying and working in America had long been a dream for many such as Kuchibhotla and Madasani.

As outrage grew, the White House had seemed slow to condemn it at first, but President Trump addressed it at the very start of his first speech to a joint session of the two chambers of Congress, saying: “Last week’s shooting in Kansas City reminds us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

First Published: Jun 10, 2017 07:47 IST