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Shooter asked if techies were in US legally: Kansas shooting victim Madasani

“He asked us what visa are we currently on and whether we are staying here illegally,” Madasani said.

world Updated: Feb 25, 2017 19:14 IST
ANI, Olathe, Kansas
Kansas shooting,Srinivas Kuchibhotla,Alok Madasani
A man shows a picture of Alok Madasani, an engineer who was injured in the shooting Wednesday night in a crowded suburban Kansas City bar, on a mobile phone as Madasani's father Jaganmohan Reddy talks to the media at his residence in Hyderabad on Feb 24.(AP Photo)

The US Navy veteran who allegedly shot and killed Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla and injured his colleague Alok Madasani asked the two men if they were illegally living in America shortly before he opened fire.

Adam Purinton, who was arrested hours after the shooting on Wednesday, had reportedly also told the Indian engineers, both employed by GPS major Garmin, to “get out of my country” before he began shooting.

Purinton was sitting near the two men on the patio of Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe city of Kansas state when he began tossing ethnic slurs and suggesting that they did not belong in the US, customers were quoted as saying by The New York Times.

“He asked us what visa are we currently on and whether we are staying here illegally,” Madasani told the Times.

“We didn’t react,” he said. “People do stupid things all the time. This guy took it to the next level.”

Madasani went to get a manager and by the time he returned to the patio, Purinton was being escorted out. He was thrown out after other patrons complained.

A short while later, Purinton came back in a rage and fired on the two Indians, authorities said. Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and Madasani, also 32, was injured along with 24-year-old man Ian Grillot, who tried to intervene.

Madasani, who was released from hospital on Thursday, said he was recovering physically and mentally. “I’m definitely doing much better, but it’s not over yet,” he said.

Purinton, 51, was caught in neighbouring Missouri state and extradited to Kansas on Friday. He was charged with premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder.

US federal and local authorities are investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime. The attack has raised new alarms about the hostility toward foreigners in the US after President Donald Trump made clamping down on immigration a key part of his ‘America first’ agenda.

But the Trump administration has rejected the notion that there could be a connection between the shooting and its efforts to tackle immigration.

The attack has also caused anxiety among Indian techies working in the US. Kuchibhotla and Madasani studied in the US and were working on H-1B visas.

“People are devastated,” Somil Chandwani, a friend of the two victims who lives in Overland Park, Kansas, told the Times. “I wouldn’t say they are angry. They have a sense of insecurity at the moment. People are trying to find answers.”

Purinton’s mother Marsha Purinton said: “He snapped, and this is not his typical self.”

Kuchibhotla and Madasani were regulars at Austins Bar & Grill and often enjoyed an after-work whiskey at the tavern.

After Purinton was thrown out, Jeremy Luby, a 41-year-old software developer, offered to pick up the tab for the two Indians, who thanked him during a brief conversation about work and cultural differences.

During his stint in the navy, Purinton served on the missile cruiser Long Beach during 1988-90. He later worked for the Federal Aviation Administration but left the agency in 2000.

In Johnson County, Kansas, Purinton had a few run-ins with law enforcement. Court records showed a speeding ticket in 2008 and a 1999 drunken-driving charge that was dismissed.

His neighbour, Lisa Puckett, said Purinton was frequently intoxicated but news of the shooting was stunning. “We always wondered if he might hurt himself, but we didn’t think he would hurt someone else,” she said

First Published: Feb 25, 2017 14:47 IST