KANSAS CITY, Kan. – A Kansas man who yelled “Get out of my country!” before killing an Indian American engineer and wounding another in a suburban Kansas City bar pleaded guilty May 21 to three federal hate-crime charges.
Adam Purinton, 53, of Olathe, Kansas, previously pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder in state court in the February 2017 death of 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla.
The shooting in Olathe also wounded Kuchibhotla’s friend, Alok Madasani, and bar patron Ian Grillot when he tried to intervene.
The attack stirred fears that immigrants were facing more violence after the election of President Donald Trump. It also attracted attention in India, where officials publicly wondered if Indian citizens are safe in the U.S.
Purinton faced a possible death sentence for the federal charges. Under the plea, though, Purinton will be sentenced to life in prison on each of the three counts, with the sentences to run consecutively to each other and to the life sentence ordered earlier this month in Johnson County, Kansas, The Kansas City Star reports.
Witnesses said Purinton, who is white, was asked to leave the bar after uttering racial slurs at Kuchibhotla and Madasani, who were working as engineers at GPS-maker Garmin at the time. Madasani told detectives that Purinton asked the men, who immigrated to the U.S. as students, if their “status was legal,” according to a court affidavit.
After the shooting, Purinton drove 70 miles to Clinton, Missouri, where he confessed the shooting to a bartender at a restaurant. Court records say Purinton told the employee that he had shot two “Iranian men.”
Purinton pleaded guilty in March to first-degree premeditated murder and two counts of attempted murder for wounding Madasani and Grillot.
Sunayana Dumala, Kuchibhotla’s widow, released a video after Purinton was sentenced May 4 to life, describing her husband as an immigrant with "dreams for a better future.”
"Today's sentencing in the murder of my husband will not bring back my Srinu, but it sends a strong message that hate is never acceptable," Dumala said.
"I have shared Srinu's story to highlight the goodness in him with the hope that others will emulate his life and not that of the man who killed him,” she said.
In a statement submitted in court before the sentencing, Dumala said to Purinton: “My husband had a passion and dream to achieve something big in the aviation industry. He was working hard on large contracts for Garmin, those which have been awarded to the company. His hard work will now give jobs to more individuals and earn them their livelihood. Imagine how much more he could have achieved and contributed to the community if not for your anger and hatred.”
“My Srinu had never hurt anyone and only had love and respect for others, but he had to lose his life because of your hate. It is because of only those values that he had instilled in me that I am able to write this. I hope in the years that you must spend in the jail you will one day realize the magnitude of your mistake and work towards your penance.” (See earlier India-West story here.)
Purinton, a Navy veteran, was a regular customer at Austin’s. Neighbors in the Olathe neighborhood where he lived told The Associated Press that he became “a drunken mess” following his father’s death about two years before the shooting and had physically and mentally deteriorated. (See earlier India-West story here.)
Sentencing for the federal charges is set for July 2.