Sun, Feb 26, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Kansas shooting blamed on Trump

HATE CRIME?The suspect was charged with one count of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder, an official said

Reuters, KANSAS CITY and NEW DELHI

A white US Navy veteran has been charged with killing an engineer from India and wounding two other men when he opened fire in a Kansas bar in what federal authorities were investigating on Friday as a possible hate crime that shocked the victim’s home country.

The shooting on Wednesday night led news bulletins in India and triggered outrage on social media, where people voiced concern that US President Donald Trump’s “America First” position on immigration and jobs has fueled a climate of intolerance.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Friday said that any loss of life was tragic, but it would be absurd to link the killing to Trump’s rhetoric.

Pratik Mathur, spokesman for the Indian embassy in Washington, said India had expressed “deep concern over the incident” to the US government and requested a “thorough and speedy investigation.”

Adam Purinton, 51, was on Thursday charged in Johnson County, Kansas, with one count of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder, District Attorney Stephen Howe told reporters.

Local media reports said Purinton often complained about his ill health and was mourning the death of his father.

The FBI was looking at whether it was a hate crime, the official term for crimes motivated by bias or prejudice.

If convicted of the state murder charges, Purinton faces a life sentence without eligibility for parole for 50 years, Howe said.

Purinton is accused of killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and wounding Alok Madasani, also 32, in Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, on Wednesday evening, police said.

At least one bystander told the Kansas City Star the gunman shouted “get out of my country” before shooting the Indian victims.

Purinton is also accused of wounding 24-year-old Ian Grillot, an American who was shot as he tried to intervene.

“People call me a hero,” Grillot said in a video released by the hospital where he was undergoing treatment for gunshot wounds to the hand and chest. “I was just doing what anyone should have done for any other human being.”

His wife, identified by media outlets as Sunayana Dumala, told reporters on Friday that the shooter “has taken a life, a very lovable soul, from everyone.”

Kuchibhotla received a master’s degree in electronics from the University of Texas in El Paso in 2007, according to LinkedIn. His Facebook page, where he called himself “Srinu,” said that in 2014 he joined the Kansas office of Switzerland-based navigation device maker Garmin Ltd from Rockwell Collins Inc.

Purinton was transferred back to Kansas on Friday and was being held with bond set at US$2 million, according to jail records.

He is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.

At Kuchibhotla’s family home near the Indian tech hub of Hyderabad, relatives backed government calls to ensure the safety of Indians living in the US.

“The government should voice out this strongly because our brothers, sisters and our relatives are there,” the victim’s brother, Venu Madhav, told Reuters TV.

“Don’t be shocked! Be angry!” Siddharth, a well-known South Indian actor who uses one name, tweeted to his 2.6 million followers in remarks echoed across social media. “Trump is spreading hate. This is a hate crime! RIP #SrinivasKuchibhotla.”

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