FBI investigation into whether the shooting of two Indian men was a hate crime also raised questions about the White Houses rhetoric around immigration
The FBI is investigating whether the shooting of two Indian men at a bar in Kansas could be a hate crime, amid reports that the gunman harassed the victims before opening fire on Wednesday night.
Adam W Purinton was charged with murder for allegedly shooting Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and his friend Alok Madasani, 32, at the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas. Kuchibhotla died in the hospital from his injuries, and Madasani has been released from the hospital.
At least one witness told the Kansas City Star that the gunman yelled go back to your country before opening fire.
In India, citizens raised concerns about the safety of foreigners in the US. It also raised questions about the White Houses rhetoric around immigration, which has promoted Donald Trumps America First position on allowing people into the country.
White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said the death in Kansas was tragic but that it would be absurd to link the action to Trumps rhetoric, according to Reuters. He also said it was too early to determine the motive.
But for Kuchibhotlas wife, Sunayana Dumala, the incident raised questions about whether immigrants are valued in the US. Dumala said at a press conference on Friday that she wanted an answer to just one question: Do we belong here?
Dumala said she wondered before if her family should stay in the country because of its high rates of gun violence but her husband told her good things happen in America.
More than $413,000 has been raised on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to help Sunayana pay for funeral expenses and other costs.
Any action on charging the incident as a hate crime would have to come from the federal government because Kansas does not have a hate crime statute, said Johnson County district attorney Stephen M Howe.
Purinton was charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder on Thursday. He is set to appear in court on Monday. Authorities declined to provide additional details about the incident.
Johnson County court records show Purinton had faced a drunken-driving charge in 1999, which was dismissed, and received a speeding ticket in 2008.
Purintons next-door neighbor, Beverly Morris, told the Kansas City Star he was usually pretty inebriated, while other neighbors remembered a reclusive, sometimes emotional man who would occasionally help neighbors with gardening tasks.
He worked with the Federal Aviation Administration until 2000, according to an agency spokesperson.
Police apprehended Purinton at an Applebees about 80 miles away in Clinton, Missouri, after being tipped off by a bartender at the restaurant, who said Purinton told them he had been involved in the shooting.
Another man, 24-year-old Ian Grillot, was wounded in the hand and chest after trying to stop the shooter, he said.