Kansas town mourns Indian engineer killed in shooting

Military veteran Adam Purinton is charged with murdering an Indian software engineer, making his initial court appearance by video from jail on Monday.
Around 1,000 people, including (from second from left) Mr Madasani, his wife, Ms Reepthi Gangula, and sisters of hero Ian Grillot, Laura and Maggie, at a prayer vigil in memory of Mr Kuchibhotla on Sunday.
Around 1,000 people, including (from second from left) Mr Madasani, his wife, Ms Reepthi Gangula, and sisters of hero Ian Grillot, Laura and Maggie, at a prayer vigil in memory of Mr Kuchibhotla on Sunday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Hundreds of people have marched and prayed in the mid-western United States city where an Indian expatriate was killed and another wounded in a suspected hate crime that has prompted calls for action.

Indians at home and in the US have expressed shock at last Wednesday's shooting in the Kansas community of Olathe that saw a drunk white man screaming racial slurs allegedly open fire on two young Indian engineers, killing one.

Mr Alok Madasani, 32, who survived, told a prayer vigil on Sunday that he was suffering profound loss after the death of his friend of nine years. "What happened that night is something we all wish didn't happen, but it happened."

Mourners marched through the Kansas City suburb in memory of the slain man, 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla and in celebration of Mr Madasani's survival.

The event also honoured Mr Ian Grillot, a white bar patron being hailed a hero for trying to help. He is being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds.

Mr Madasani, who was taken to hospital after the shooting, was greeted with applause when he hobbled into the room on crutches and later told the audience how his friend was "always making sure the people around him were happy".

The ceremony, which opened with Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh prayers, was held at a packed community centre.

During the attack, the alleged suspect, Adam Purinton, 51, reportedly screamed racial slurs and told the two Indian men, who had been living in the US for several years and working as aviation systems engineers, to "get out of my country".

He was arrested after police got a tip that the suspect boasted of having killed two Middle Eastern men, the Kansas City Star reported. Purinton has been charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is determining if the shooting was a hate crime.

New Delhi's top diplomat will travel to Washington this week for talks with US officials as anger grows over the death. A ministry official said Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar will hold a "wide-ranging bilateral discussion".

In an editorial yesterday, The Times of India urged President Donald Trump to "make it clear that such hate is not acceptable in his America".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2017, with the headline 'Kansas town mourns Indian engineer killed in shooting'. Print Edition | Subscribe